This is an English locational surname. It is locational and originates from one of the villages called Dunham in the county of Nottinghamshire, or the villages of Dunham on the Hill, in both Cheshire and Norfolk, as well as Dunham Magna and Dunham Parva also in Norfolk. Curiously the place name and hence the surname does actually mean "The homestead on the hill" from the Olde English pre 7th century "dun" meaning hill and "ham" a house, so the later addition of "on the hill" with some of the place names is unneccessary. In the earliest records the place names are simply given as Dunham or Doneham in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. The surname would seem to be much later, as is normally the case. Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their original homes. Upto the late medieval times people did not move unless they had to, and even then it was because much of the common grazing lands were lost to the tenants, by the introduction of sheep farms. These required fewer workers, and the later Enclosure Acts, which gave the country the distinctive hedgerows which are now being so sadly lost to modern agricultural methods, or lack of them. The first recordings of this surname are in the region known as East Anglia and speficially in the counties of Norfolk, with Reginal de Dunham and in the county of Lincolnshire with Joel de Dunham, both in the Hundred Rolls of landowners in the year 1272.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017