This can be either an English or an Irish surname, and in some cases possibly both! Recorded in the spellings of Linham, Lineham, Lynam, and Lynham, and found in these spellings in both countries, the English origin is locational, being derived from the various places called "Lyneham" in the counties of Devonshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. All are so named from the Old English pre 7th century 'lin', meaning flax, and either 'ham' meaning homestead, settlement or 'hamm', a water meadow. The villages are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Lineham' and 'Linham'.Locational names were usually given to the lord of the local manor and his descendants, or to those who left their original homes and went to live in another area, although this could be as close as the next village. This was an easy form of identification as shown in the first recording. The Irish origin of the name is from the anglicized form of the Gaelic 'O Laidhghneain', translating as 'the descendant of Laidhghnean', the latter being a personal name that is of uncertain origin, but probably means 'snow-birth' i.e. winter-born, from 'ladhgh' meaning snow. However the complication then arises that English families called 'Lineham' settled in various parts of Ireland in the 17th century, and now the name spellings overlap to a degree where exact origins are often difficult to supply with complete confidence. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Linham which was dated 1205, in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire. during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199 - 1216. 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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