This interesting surname, with variant spellings Waltham, Wattham and Watham, is of English locational origin and is a dialectal variant of any of the numerous places named with the old English pre 7th Century "w(e)ald" meaning woodland, plus "ham", a settlement. These places include White Waltham in Berkshire, recorded as Wuealtham in the Saxon Chartulary, dated 940; North Waltham in Hampshire appearing as Northe Wautham in the 1289 Episcopal Registers of that county, and Coldwaltham, (Sussex), entered variously as Uualdham and Waltham in the Saxon Chartulary. The surname first appears on record in the early 12th Century, (see below). One Geoffrey de Wattham was noted in the 1190 "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire". On October 11th 1530 George Wattham and Elizabeth Reade were married in St. Mary le Bow, London and on March 17th 1710 John Whattam witnessed a christening at West Heslerton, Yorkshire. The christening of James, son of John Whatham, took place in St. Peter's, Liverpool, Lancashire on June 11th 1826. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Wattham, which was dated 1119, "The Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Richard 1st, "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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