This unusual locational surname has changed considerably in its geographical and dialectal movements over the centuries. It derives from the ancient Suffolk village of Wattisham, which is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Wecesham", and translates as "the home (ham) of Wacca", an Olde English personal name from the pre 7th Century. The dialectal pronunciation in the medieval period was "Wachan", and this form was adopted into the early surname. As the name spread out into London and the Midlands, the spellings became more varied, and the additional spelling forms included Watcham, Watchum and Watchorn(e). The recording examples include: Francis Watchorne, who married Grace Malson at Melton Mowbray, on February 6th 1622; Francis Watchorn, who married Sarah Hubbard at Hoby, on October 7th 1716; and George Watchorn, who married Eleanor Lane at Croxton, Keyrial, Leicestershire, on February 12th 1824, in the reign of King George 1V (1820 - 1830), the famous "Prinny". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Watchorne, which was dated November 6th 1611, a witness at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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