This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Wretham in Norfolk. The placename is recorded as "Wretham" and "Weretham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Wretham" int he 1177 Pipe Rolls of the county. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wraett", crosswort, and "ham", village, estate, manor, homestead; hence, "village where crosswort grew". Crosswort was a plant grown for medicinal purposes. Locational surnames were given to the lord of the manor, and to those former inhabitants who left to live or work in another area, and in this way the spelling of the name often changed with varying regional pronunciations. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Wretham, Wrightam and Wrightem, to Wrettum, Wrightim and Wrightham. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of John, son of Robert Wrettum, on December 27th 1605, at St. Stephen's, Norwich, Norfolk; the marriage of Robert Wrightim and Ann Consterdine at Manchester, Lancashire, on November 18th 1658; and the christening of Robert, son of Robert and Mary Wrightham, at Cabourne, Lincolnshire, on July 11th 1798. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wrightem, which was dated September 5th 1590, a witness at the christening of his daughter, Agnes, at Hundleby, Lincolnshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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