The surname of OLDHAM is a place name from Oldham, the large metropolis of what used to be the flourishing cotton-spinning industry, near Manchester. The earliest of the name on record appears to be ALDHOLM (without surname) who was documented in 1226 in County Lancashire, and ALDHULM (without surname) appears in the year 1227. 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. Other records mention Agnes de Oldom listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Susann, daughter of Thomas Ouldome was baptised in St. James, Clerkenwell, London 1633. William Oldham, Manchester, 1621. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
A notable member of the name was Richard Dixon Oldham (1858-1936) the British geologist and seismologist, born in Dublin. He was the discoverer of the Earth's core. Educated at the Royal School of Mines, he was a member of the Geological Survey of India (1878-1903) was director of the Indian Museum in Calcutta.
The associated arms are to be found in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms 1884.
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