This is an English locational surname. It originated from the small Hampshire village called Popham near the town of Basinstoke. It was first recorded over one thousand years ago in the spelling of Popham, and is the only example that we know, of a place name from before the Norman Conquest of 1066, which has travelled down over the many centuries, whilst maintaining its original spelling. Unfortunately this excellent record is then spoilt by the fact that nobody knows what it actually means! There is a suggestion that it may derive from the ancient word "popol" meaning a pebble, and hence a house (ham) built of pebbles. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given as easy indentification to people after they left their origin village or town, to move somewhere else, even though this could be the next village. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, often lead to the creation of variants. Again this does not seem to have happened with Popham, making it again unique. Almost every English surname has added at least an "e" at some point in history. It has been doubled barelled at least once, with Air Marshal Brooke-Popham being a famous commander in the Second World War (1939 - 1945). The first recording that we have is that of John Popham whose daughter Elizabeth was christened at St James Clerkenwell in the city of London, in 1620.
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