Recorded as Elam, Ealam, Ellam, Ellams and Elham, this is an English surname. It is locational from a village called Elham, in the county of Kent. This place name is comprised of two separate elements. The first being "alor", an early pre 7th century Olde English word for alder trees, with "ham" as the second element meaning a homestead or small village. The placename is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Aham, with Elham being recorded in the pipe rolls for Kent in the year 1182. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original home, and moved somewhere else. In so doing they took, or were given, for easy identification, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best indifferent, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of alternative spellings. In this case examples taken from surviving church registers of Kent include those of Rose Ellam, who was christened on July 17th 1603, at St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, Janam Elam and Gulielmus Wahall who were married at Birchington on December 15th, 1645, whilst Thomas Fitzgerald Ellams, the son of William and Mary Ellams was christened at Strood, near Rochester, on September 24th 1785. Possibly the first recorded spelling of the family name is that of Marye Elam. This was dated October 30th 1569, at the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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