This interesting surname recorded in the spellings of Hougham, Houghton, Haughton, Hottam, Howton, and no doubt others, is of 9th century Anglo-Saxon origin. It is a locational surname from any of the various places called Houghton, Haughton, and Hougham, the latter being from Kent. These village names translate from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hoh" meaning ridge or spur of land, with "tun", a fenced enclosure or settlement, hence "settlement on the spur of a hill". A small group of Houghtons in Lancashire and West Yorkshire have as their first element the Olde English "halh" meaning nook, recess.In the case of isolated examples in Devon and East Yorkshire the first elements appear to be the Olde English pre 7th Century personal names or bynames "Huhha" and "Hofa", although the Kent village is most definitely placed upon a spur. Early examples of the surname recordings include such as: John de Haleghton in Yorkshire in the Hundred rolls of the year 1273, and Alexander de Houhton of Cambridgeshire, also in 1273. Robert de Hotham was recorded in Yorkshire in 1295 and Johannes Hothum also in Yorkshire in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379. Christopher Houghton, aged 19 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Thomas and John" bound for Virginia in July 1635, was one of the earliest settlers in America, whilst Henry Hougham, the son of William and Susanna Hougham, was christened at St Martins Ludgate, London, on September 9th 1665, at the height of the Great Plague of London. Did he survive to live to a normal age? A coat of arms associated with the nameholders has the blazon of a black shield, charged with three silver bars and a gold rose in chief. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Hoctona, which was dated 1115, in the "Winton Book of Hampshire", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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