This interesting surname with variant spelling Garnam, Garham, etc., is of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been in Suffolk, where the surname is widely recorded. The component elements of Garnham are the old English personal name Gara, a short form of the various compound names with the first element "gar" meaning "spear" plus "ham", "homestead". The surname dates back to the late 16th Century, (see below). Church recordings include one Edmonde, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Garnham who was christened on July 26th 1573 at Kelsale, Suffolk and Thomas Garnham married Anne Fisher on March 25th 1652 at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London. Thomas Garnham married Margry Brassgirdle at St. James, Dukes Place, London on April 16th 1691. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edmond Garnam, (christening), which was dated 1572, Walsham le Willows, Suffolk, 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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