SURNAMES as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people.
The surname of BANHAM was a locational name 'of Banham' a small spot in County Norfolk. The name was derived from the Old English word BEANHAMME, which literally meant the dweller where the beans grew. The surname is still much more common in Norfolk than elsewhere. Early records of the name mention BENHAM (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. BANHAM (without surname) was documented in County Norfolk in the year 1168. Thomas Banhamme was recorded in Norfolk in the year 1273, and William Banham of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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