This ancient English surname of OAKHAM was a locational name meaning 'one who came from OAKHAM' in Rutland. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form OCCAHAM, and was brought into England during the wake of the Norman Invasion from Scandinavia in the form KIRKIUSOKN. The earliest of the name on record appears to be CHERCHESOCH (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. OCHAM (without surname) was recorded in Rutland in 1202. 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. A notable member of the name was William of OCCAM (circa. 1290 -?1349) the English philosopher, probably born at Ockham in Surrey. He early joined the Franciscans, and studied at Oxford. Summoned to Avignon by Pope John XXII on a charge of heresy (1326) he was confined to a friary util 1328 when, after siding against the pope in a Franciscan dispute concerning poverty, he fled to live under the protection of the emperor Louis IV at Pisa and Munich. He died in Munich of the Black Death. 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 another name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had a second name.
In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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