This ancient surname of KELHAM was a locational name 'of Kelham' a parish in County Nottingham two miles from Newark. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Walter de Kelome who was recorded in the year 1273 in County Nottingham and Peter de Kelum was documented in Nottingham during the reign of Edward I (1279-1307). A later instance of the name includes Joseph Kelham and Sarah Flower who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1763. The name is also spelt KELLAMS.
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