Recorded in many forms including Maytom, Maytum, Matcham, Mattam, Metham, and probably others, this is an English, and mainly dialectal, surname. It originates from the hamlet of Metham, four miles south east of the town of Howden in East Yorkshire. Metham was recently assessed to have a population of sixty, but it is possible that in the medieval period it was larger. The hamlet itself is first recorded in the year 1312 in the rolls known as the 'Inquisitones post mortem' and is almost unique in the fact that neither the village name nor the associated surname seem to have changed their spelling in the near seven hundred years since. It has been claimed that the surname originated from the village of Metheringham in Lincolnshire, but this is clearly wrong. The name of the village and hence the surname means 'the place where mowing was carried out' from the pre 7th century Old English 'maep-hamm'. It is said that the first known recording of the surname was in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379, when an Edward Metham of Yorkshire is so recorded. However an even earlier recording of the name is that of Thomas Metham, sometimes recorded as Sir Thomas Metham, who according to Jenyn's Roll of heraldry, competed at the famous Dunstable tournament of 1334. This was during the reign of King Edward 111 of England, who reigned from 1327 to 1377. Later dialectal recordings in the church registers of the city of London include: Mary Mattum who married George Thursby at St Andrews by the Wardrobe, on November 17th 1790, and Fanny Maytom, who married John Wildey at St Matthews, Bethnal Green, on October 31st 1875.
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