Recorded as Cullum and Culham, this is a surname which has several possible origins and nationalities. It may be English and locational from a village called Culham in Oxfordshire, and meaning the house on the bend of the river, or from Culham in Berkshire, the place with a (pottery) kiln. It may also be Scottish and Irish and a variant of the surname Coleman which is also found as Calham and Collam. This name may have described a collier or charcoal burner or in Gaelic countries may well have originated from the personal name Colman. This is from Columban, meaning "white dove", and denoted a follower of St Columba, of which the dove of peace was his symbol. Also to add to the confusion Colman was one of the names adopted by the pre 9th century Norse - Vikings invaders of Ireland who changed the spelling slightly to Kalman, and introduced into Northern England! Another possible origin was occupational and if so described the servant (man) of somebody called Cole. This was an Old English pre 7th century byname used to describe a person of dark complexion, probably a Welshman. It is unclear when the surname was first recorded, but Ranulf de Colham appears in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Shropshire in 1273, whilst William Cullum, also recorded as Culhame and Culme is recorded in the register of students of Oxford University in 1570. 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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