This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the places called "Great and Little Totham" in Essex. Originally one settlement, the place was recorded as "Totham" circa 950 and as "Tot(e)ham" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means "the look-out homestead or settlement", derived from the old English pre 7th Century element "tot", a derivative of the verb "totian", to peep out, look out, with "ham" a homestead, settlement. The Subsidy Rolls of Essex, dated 1238, first records the places separately, as "Thotham Magna and Parva", i.e. Great and Little Totham. Great Totham is on the slope of a hill, near Beacon Hill. The modern surname can be found as "Totham, Tottam and Tottem". Benjamin Tottem was christened on the 16th of December 1767 at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Raph Tothome (christening), which was dated 15th of August 1553, at St. Lawrence Pountney, London, during the reign of Queen Mary I, "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 1588. 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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