Recorded as Durham, Derham, Durram and possibly others, this is an English surname, which is also well recorded in Ireland. It is locational and can be either from the city of Durham in North East England, or as shown below, Dereham villages in the county of Norfolk. Durham City, known as the seat of the Prince Bishops, is recorded as Dunholm in the year 1000 a.d, and as Dunhelme in Historia Anglorum, dated 1122. The derivation is from the pre 6th century words "dun holmr", meaning an island of raised land partly surrounded by streams, as accurate a description of Durham as is possible. However the two villages called Dereham and meaning the deer farm, in the county of Norfolk, first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Derham, have also given rise to the surname. The surname is first recorded in the 12th Century, (see below), whilst other recordings include William de Durham in the Fines Court Rolls of Essex in 1236, and Robertus de Durham, who was one of twelve Scottish knights appointed to settle the laws of the marches in 1249. John de Derham appears in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Norfolk in 1273, whilst much later Sir Philip Durham (1763-1845), was wounded at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert de Dunelm, and dated 1163, in the the Pipe Rolls of the city of London. This was during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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