This is a surname of truly ancient and historic origins, which deserves to be far better known. It derives from the Old British "totaern" meaning "a hill top" or "fortified place", and specifically describes "a watch tower" or "look-out point". The villages of Tothill in Lincolnshire and Middlesex, Toothill, near Brighouse in Yorkshire, and the twin hamlets known as Great and Little Totham in Essex, are reminders of their original roles. The "totmann" was much more than a mere watchman, the post being generally given to people of proven military background, who could quickly assess whether approaching "strangers" were likely to be friend or foe. The first recording in Essex (see below) ties in with the Essex villages of Totham. Other recordings include those of: Johannes Tottman, who married Anne Raylie at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, on February 28th 1624, and Henry Tottman, who was christened at Holy Trinity, Clapham, Surrey, on December 9th 1851. One of the earliest of American colonists was Jo. Totman, who left London in April 1632, under the patronage of "Capten Mason". He was aged 21 yrs. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Toteman, which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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