This interesting surname has two distinct possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name for a "dweller on the flat, low-lying land by a stream". The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ham(m)", meadow, especially a flat, low-lying meadow by a stream. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Robert atte Hamme is noted in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. Secondly, the surname may be of Scottish locational origin, from a small place, thus called, in the former county of Caithness (now part of the Highland region), so called from the Old Norse "hami", village, estate, homestead, manor. In May 1611, William, son of Alexander Hame, was christened at Inveresk, Midlothian. One of the earliest settlers of the name in the New World was Joseph Ham, aged 16 yrs., who was recorded as living in Virginia in 1624; he went over in 1621 aboard the "Warwicke". A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a silver lion rampant guardant, armed red, on a blue shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de la Hamme, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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