Recorded in several spelling forms including Debenham, Debnam, Dedman and even Deadman, this is an English surname. It is locational and in its varied forms derives from the village of Debenham in the county of Suffolk. This is an Olde English pre 7th century river name, deriving from "deopa" meaning deep and "ham" a farm or homestead. 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. In consequence many went to London, where as was well known "the streets were paved with gold". There they were given for ease of identification, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best indifferent, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of "sounds like" forms. In this case the surname is very early with John de Debenham appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire in the year 1273. Early examples taken from surviving church recordings of the diocese of Greater London and showing the name development over the centuries include: Rachell Deadman who married Thomas Pope on September 12th 1580, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, Andrew Dedman, christened on March 1st 1637, at St. Botolphs without Aldgate, and Frances Dedman who was christened on August 1st 1638, at St. Margaret's, Westminster. 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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