The surname of NEUKAM was a nickname 'the new-commer' a newly settled stranger to the town or village. The name was derived from the Old English word Niwecumen. Early records of the name mention Gilbert le Neucom, 1273 County Lincoln. Ricardus Newcomen of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Maddison married Elizabeth Newcome in Canterbury, County Kent. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The earlier form of the name Newcomen, was a name of note in Dublin in the seventeenth century, which had arrived in Ireland at the end of the 16th century. Newcombe was mainly found in County Mayo, where it is said to be the anglicized from of O'Niadh. A notable member of the name was Simon Newcomb (1835-1909) the American astronomer. He was a graduate of Harvard. He made many astronomical discoveries, and wrote a long series of works.
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