Recorded in a wide range of spelling forms including Debenham, Debnam, Dedman, Dedam, Dedon, Dibben and even Deadman, this is an English surname. It is locational and in all its varied forms derives from the village of Debenham in the county of Suffolk. This is a place name of Olde English pre 7th century, and originally described a river. It derives from "deopa" meaning deep and "-ham," normally a farm or homestead, but in this case a valley, to mean the deep river flowing through the valley. Locational surnames are by their nature "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and travelled elsewhere usually in search of work. "Elsewhere" could just be the next village but because almost everywhere spelling was at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, this still lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. The surname is very early with John de Debenham appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire in the year 1273, whilst examples taken from early surviving church registers include Rachell Deadman who married Thomas Pope on September 12th 1580, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, Willyam Deddon at Bastwick, Norfolk, on February 26th 1603, and Andrew Dedman, christened on March 1st 1637, at St. Botolphs without Aldgate, city of London. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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