This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse origin, and is habitational from the place in Lancashire so called, derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "ald, old", old, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "eald", and the Middle English "holm", island, dry land in a fen, promontory, itself derived from the Old Norse "holmr". The placename was first recorded as "Aldholm" in the 1226 - 1228 Book of Fees for Lancashire, and as "Aldhulm" in the 1227 Assize Rolls of Lancashire. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include: Richard de Oldham in the 1384 "Calendar of Inquisitiones post mortem" for Lancashire; Robert Oldum in the 1470 "Calendar of the Close Rolls for London"; and Ralph Oldham in the 1508 Coroners' Rolls of Nottinghamshire. An interesting namebearer was John Oldham (1779 - 1840), an engineer, who was employed by the Bank of Ireland and Bank of England, where his machinery for printing and numbering notes was in use until 1853. He also patented paddle-wheels for steamers, and introduced a system of warming buildings. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is black a chevron gold, between three owls silver on a chief of the second as many roses red, the Crest being an owl silver in front of a holly bush green. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Achard de Aldeham, which was dated 1218 - 1219, in the "Feet of Fines of Kent", 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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