Recorded in several spellings including Garnam, Garnem, Garnham, Garnhan, Garnhem, Garnon, Garnum, and probably others, this is an English locational surname. It is believed to originate from a now "lost" medieval village, of which there are over three thousand examples which have disappeared from the maps in Britain in the past seven centuries. 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 Norfolk or Suffolk, where the surname is most widely recorded. The component elements are the pre 7th century English personal name Gara, a short form of the various compound names with the first element "gar" meaning a spear plus and "ham", a homestead. Early examples of recordings include Edmonde, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Garnam 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. The first recorded spelling may be Edmond Garnam, and ated 1572, at Walsham le Willows, Suffolk. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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