This is a locational surname which derives most probably from the village of Fleetham in Northumberland, or just possibly Kirby Fleetham in Yorkshire. The origin is Olde English pre 7th century, and the name translates as 'The farm or hamlet (ham) on the river (flete). The very earliest recording of the village name in 1180, which is many years before the recording of the surname, describes it as 'Fletham', and this spelling appears in the early surname recordings as well. Although now well recorded in the north country, paradoxically the early church recordings are all found in the south and specifically London. This is not unusual, when the original inhabitants left Fle(e)tham for whatever reason, they went to London. London, as today, was the mecca, and it also had the best recording systems. What is certain is that when the inhabitants arrived at their new homes they took or were given, as their surnames, the name of their former village. Given the lack of education, this often lead to the creation of 'sounds like' names, but Fleetham seems to have avoided these mishaps. Early recordings include Tobias Fleetham at the church of St Gregory and St Paul, London on July 11th 1658, and Elizabeth Fleetham who married William Tooke at Tynemouth, Northumberland, on May 20th 1679. The Coat of Arms granted to the family has a black field charged with the blazon of three silver unicorns heads. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Fletham, which was dated December 12th 1559, a witness at St Mary Whitechapel, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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