This interesting surname is English, and of Anglo-Saxon and Norse pre 7th century origins. It is locational from Oldham in Lancashire, so called from the Olde English word "eald", and the Norse "holmr", meaning 'old lands' or similar. This was presumably a reference to an area of land which had long been cultivated for agriculture. The placename was first recorded as Aldholm in the Book of Fees and as Aldhulm in the Assize Rolls of Lancashire, both in 1226. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th century (see below), and other recordings include Richard de Oldham in the 'Calendar of Inquisitiones post mortem' for Lancashire in 1324; Robert Oldum in the 'Calendar of the Close Rolls' for London in 1470; and Ralph Oldham in the Coroners' Rolls of Nottinghamshire in 1508. An interesting namebearer was John Oldham (1779 - 1840). He was an engineer who was employed by both the Bank of Ireland and Bank of England. His machinery for printing and numbering notes was in use for many years. He also patented paddle-wheels for steamers, and introduced a system of centrally heating buildings. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a black field charged with a gold chevron, between three silver owls. On gold chief, three red roses. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Achard de Aldeham. This was dated 1218 - 1219, in the "Feet of Fines of the county of Kent", during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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