Wonham is a locational surname which derives either from one of the three hamlets of the name in Bampton (Esat Devon), Godstone or Reigate (Surrey) or from other places such as Wadham in Norfolk. That the origin is Olde English pre 7th century is not in contention, however the meaning is open to argument. The probable translation is "the place (or temple) of Woden" (the God) however it could also be "the farm where the woad grew", as in the 13th century "Wodenhale" in Kent. Unfortunately a thousand years of alternate spellings makes absolute identification of many "Saxon" names impossible. The spread of the locations and the enthusiasum of the pre Christians for Woden, (as found in Wednesday), certainly points to a national identity. Locational names were given in the earliest days to the Lords of the Manor, (see below), later it became a form of identity when a person left his or her former place of residence. The great plagues of the 15th century make for a major upsurge, and forced the development of surnames. Examples of "Wonham" include Richard Wonnham who married Ursula Woodman at Beddington, Surrey on September 9th 1547 and John Wonham who married Grace Yardley at St. Giles church, Cripplegate, London on December 26th 1639. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Wodeham, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", 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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