This interesting surname of English origin is a dialectal variant of the locational name Colham, Middlesex, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Cola plus "ham" meaning "homestead or village". The placename is recorded as Coleham in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname dates back to the late 16th Century, (see below). Church recordings include one Marie, daughter of Alexander Cowlam who was christened on August 3rd 1600, at Elsham, Endell Street, Holborn, Martyn, son of Rodolphi Cowlam was christened on March 4th 1603 at Skegness, Lincolnshire, and David Cowlam married Judeth Hathaway on September 14th 1686, at St. Katherine by the Tower, London. John, son of Richard and Anne Cowlham, was christened on December 18th 1715, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, and William, son of William and Elizabeth Cowlam, was christened on June 12th 1794, at Lying in Hospital, Endell Street, Holborn. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Cowleam witnessed the christening of his daughter Marie, which was dated 1585, Worlaby by Brigg, Lincolnshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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