This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from a place thus called, north west of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Recorded as "Ronham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Runnaham" in 1163, and as "Runham" in the 1165 Pipe Rolls of that county, the first element may be either the Olde English pre 7th Century "run", council, or the Olde English personal name "Runa", councillor, with "ham", village, estate, manor, homestead. "Run" is also found as an initial element in such placenames as Runwell, Essex, and Runnymeade in Surrey, indicating ancient, and perhaps secret, meeting-places. "Runa", corresponding to the Old German "Runo" and the Old Swedish "Rune", occurs in Runningtone, Somerset, and Runton, Norfolk, entered respectively as "Runetone" and "Runetune" in the Domesday Book. Runham Vauxhall in the county borough of Great Yarmouth, adjoining Runham, may also have given rise to the surname. Locational names were originally given to local landowners and the Lord of the Manor, and especially as a means of identification to those former inhabitants who left their place of origin to live and work in another area, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. On August 13th 1592, Ann, daughter of Owyn Runham, was christened in Great Chesterford, Essex, and on September 23rd 1611, William, son of John Runham, was christened in Hildersham, Cambridgeshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Catherine Runham, marriage to Thomas Clark, which was dated 1588, in Great Chesterford, Essex, during the reign of Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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