This most interesting and curious surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and of locational origin from Welham, the name of various places in Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The first of these was recorded as "Walendeham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, while the latter two appear as "Wellun" also in the Domesday Book. The placenames are all composed of the same elements, which are the Olde English pre 7th Century "well(a)", a spring or stream, and "-ham", homestead; hence, "the homestead by the stream". The surname also includes the genitive ending "-s", meaning "of" a certain place. However, the name may also be a variant of Williams, a patronymic form of "William", from the Germanic personal name "Wilhelm", composed of "will", desire, will, and "-helm", helmet, protection. Richard William is mentioned in the Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls of 1279, and Adam de Wellome appears in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1363. Gorg, son of Gorg Whellam, was christened on June 8th 1606, at St. Botolph's, Colchester, Essex, and William Whellams was christened on May 29th 1868, at St. Peter's, Liverpool, Lancashire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Weleham, which was dated 1276, in the "Hundred Rolls of Leicestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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