This name is of Northern English locational origin from either of two places thus called, that is Kirkham in Lancashire and in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The former was first recorded as "Chircheham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Chercheham" in the Lancashire Pipe Rolls, dated 1094, and the latter appeared as "Chercham" in the Domesday Book and as "Kirkham" circa 1200 in Yorkshire Charters. The name, in both cases, derives from a Scandinavianized form of the Olde English pre 7th Century "circ", a church plus "ham" a settlement; hence, "settlement with a church". The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below). One, Adam de Kirkham appears in the Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, dated 1379, and in 1575, a John Kirkham of Surrey was entered in the Oxford University Register. The name is particularly well recorded in Lancashire Church Registers from the mid 16th Century, an interesting entry being the christening of Anne, daughter of George Kirkham, in Kirkham, on February 13th 1569. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Kirkeham, witness, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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