Recorded in the spellings of Wernham, Wornum and Wornham, this most interesting surname is English. It is a variant or dialectal form of the town name "Wareham". This is from either Wareham in the county of Dorset or Warham, a place found in both the counties of Herefordshire and Norfolk. The Dorset town was recorded as Werham in the famous Anglo Saxon Chronicles of the year 784 a,d. and as Warham in the Domesday Book of 1086, while the latter places in Herefordshire and Norfolk appear as Warham and Guarham in the same register. All of these placenames are composed of the same old English elements "wer", meaning weir, a place where the river was damned, and "ham" a village or settlement. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century, (see below), and early examples taken from the surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London includes examples such as: Gertrude Wornham, who was christened at the church of St. Mary Somerset, on November 23rd 1561, and John Wernham, who married Anne Tuerye, as spelt, at the church of St Gregory by St Paul's Cathedral, on May 24th 1660. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Warham. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Norfolk. during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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