This is an English medieval surname. Recorded as Fatham, Fanthome, and possibly others, it is locational and a variant spelling of the popular place name and surname Fenton. Villages called Fenton are to be found throughout the north and midlands of England in the counties of Cumberland, Northumberland, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. The derivation is from the pre 7th Century elements "fenn" meaning a marsh, and "tun", a farm or settlement; and hence "a village built on marshy land". "Fen" in early records generally shows the East Saxon form "fan". Locational surnames, such as this, were usually those of the lord of the manor, or by former inhabitants who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. An early recording of the placename in Yorkshire in the year 963 a.d. shows the spelling as "Fentun". Recordings from church registers include the marriage of Mary Fantham and Isaiah Kitson on October 18th 1830, at Tipton, Staffordshire, and the christening of George William Fanthom on July 5th 1867, at St. John the Baptist, Shoreditch, city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Fenton. This was dated 1199, in "Pleas before the King or his Justices", in Yorkshire, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. 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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