Recorded as Fantham, Fanthom, Fanthum and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is locational and a dialectal variant of the place name Fenton, of which village examples exist in the counties of Cumberland, Northumberland, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. The derivation of the placenames is from the pre 7th Century elements "fenn," meaning a marsh, and "tun", an enclosure or settlement; hence, "a village built on marshy land". "Fen" in early records generally shows the East Saxon form of "Fan", but the meaning is the same. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by the lord of the manor, or were given to those villagers who moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. An early recording of the place name in Yorkshire, recorded in 963 a.d. shows the place name spelling as "Fentun". Recordings from early surviving church registers include: the marriage of Mary Fantham and Isaiah Kitson on October 18th 1830, at Tipton in Staffordshire, and the christening of George William Fanthom on July 5th 1867, at St. John the Baptist Shoreditch, in the 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 the rolls known as the "Pleas before the King or his Justices", in the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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