Recorded in the spellings of Pulham and Pelham, these are English surname locational surnames of great antiquity. They originate from the villages of Pulham in Norfolk and Dorset, and from the various villages called Pelham in Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, and Hampshire. The meanings of the various place names may well be the same of 'the house (or farm) by the pool' from the Olde English pre 7th century 'peol'. There has been a suggestion that 'peol' is a personal name, but as it is one that seems to mean 'pool', this makes it rather a vacuous argument.What is certain is that these places have been recorded for a very long time and the surname is subsequently one of the oldest on the surnames listing. as an example Brent Pelham in Hertfordshire, a name which has an addition meaning of the 'the Pelham that was burnt down', appears as Peleham in the 1086 Domesday Book, as does Pulham in Dorset. Pulham in Norfolk is even older, being recorded before the Norman iNvasion, in the year 1050. The first recording of the surname is probably that of Nicholas de Pulham of Norfolk, in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, whilst Sir John Pelham is recorded in the lists of knights at the seige of Rouen in France in 1418. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere, hence the use of 'de' in early records. It was in medieval times, and to some extent it remains so today, that the easiest ways to identify a stranger, was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came.
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