Recorded in several spellings including Raccam, Rackam, Rackham, Rackhalm, Reckam, and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It has Olde English pre 7th century origins, and appears to derive either from the ancient words "racu" meaning the bed of a shallow river, in effect another word for a ford, or "hreac", a (hay)rick, but applying in a borrowed sense to a hill or mound, plus "ham", a place, probably a house. Hence the house by the ford or the hill shaped like a rick! The village of Rackham and Rackham Hill, is near Arundel in Sussex, and is first recorded as Recham in the year 1166. The surname is apparently later, and few if any recordings of the surname in any of the known spellings, are to be found in the registers of the county of Sussex. This suggests that either the nameholders came from somewhere else, a now "lost" medieval village perhaps, or more likely that in the late16th century the forefathers of the existing nameholders left the Sussex village "en masse" and moved elsewhere. This is possible, Sussex was the centre of the sheep farming during this period, and many villages were "cleared" to facilitate sheep farming. Whatever the reason the name is widely recorded in London, which should probably be regarded as its "home town". Early examples include Josias Rackham christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on August 20th 1628, and Sam Rackam, who married Eliza Rowlands at St James church, Dukes Place, London, on January 19th 1665. The first recording in church registers may be that of Susan Racham, at St Margarets, Westminster, on May 22nd 1597.
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