This unusual and interesting surname, recorded in Church Registers of Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bedfordshire from the early 16th Century under the variant spellings Kensham, Kensam, Kinsam, Kenchin and Kenchen, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from either of two places called Kinsham. The first, situated north east of Twekesbury in Worcestershire, was recorded as "Kelmesham" in the 1209 Book of Fees for that county, and is so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Cynehelm", a compound of the elements "cyne", royal, and "helm", helmet, with "ham", village, estate, manor, homestead. Kinsham, a parish near Presteigne in Herefordshire is presumably named with the same elements. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently gave rise to variations on the original spelling of the name which accounts for the several differences in Church Registers. On August 6th 1552, Willyam Kensam and Alyce Harvard were married at Little Wittenham, Berkshire, and on May 11th 1563, Edward Kinchin married Joan Corker at Cheriton, Hampshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Avis Kensham, which was dated 1539, marriage to Rich Gom, at Chesterton, Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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