Recorded in various spelling forms including Massingham and Messingham, this is an English surname. It is locational from one of the villages called Massingham in the county of Norfolk, or from Messingham in the county of Lincolnshire. Both have the same derivation which is from the pre 7th century Olde English personal name Maessa, and as such the place names describes the home of the Maessa tribe. Locational surnames were either ones that were originally given to the local lord of the manor and his descendants, or more usually as "from" names. These occured when people left their original villages, and moved elsewhere in search of work. In the medieval times and to some extent it remains so today, that the easiest way to identify a stranger, was to call hime or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Adam de Messingham. This was dated 1273, in the charters known as the Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. 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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