This most unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a variant, metathesized form of the more familiar locational surname Gresham, from the place so called near Sheringham in Norfolk. The place is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Gersam, Gressam", and derives its name from the Olde English pre 7th Century "gaers, graes", grass(land), pasturage, with "ham", homestead, farm, settlement. The interchangeable first element, "gaers, graes" is a fairly common occurrence in Old and Middle English, here both "bird" and "brid" are found for bird, and "caerse, cerse" or "cresse" for (water) cress; this latter term is the first element of a number of placenames, such as Carswell and Caswell, which have generated the surnames Creswell, Cressall and Craswall, among many others.Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere, and regional dialectal differences as well as varying standards of literacy subsequently gave rise to variant forms of the original name. In this instance the modern surname ranges from Gresham, Gressham and Greshom, to Garsham, Gersham, Gershom, Girsom(e) and Gorcham. Examples from Church Registers include: the marriage of Arthur Gersom and Lucy Watson, in Anderby, Lincolnshire, on July 16th 1563, and the christening of Hanna, daughter of John Gershom, on July 23rd 1624, in Tattershall, Lincolnshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Gresham, which was dated 1199, in Records of Pleas before the King and his justices for the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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