This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Masham in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The placename is recorded as "Massan" in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as "Masseham" in the 1251 Charter Rolls of the county. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Maessa" with "ham" an estate, manor, homestead or village; hence, "Maessa's homestead or village". During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century (see below) and can also be found as Massam. On April 30th 1564, Thomas Masham married Margaret Bradshawe at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, and John Masham was christened on February 1st 1573 at the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the Masham family is gold, with a red fess humette between two black lions passant, the Crest being a gold griffin's head couped between two red wings erect. The motto "Mihi jussa capessere" translates as "To execute my commands". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Masseham, which was dated 1335, in the "Records of the Freemen of York", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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