This ancient English surname of ELAMS is of the locational group of surnames meaning 'one who came from ELHAM' a parish in County Kent, eleven miles from Canterbury. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form ULAHAM. The earliest of the name on record appears to be ALHAM (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, and AELHAM (without surname) was recorded in Kent in 1182. ALEHAM (without surname) was recorded in 1202. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. Later instances of the name include Helewis de ELEAM, of County Lincoln, who was recorded during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and Walter de ELMHAM of County Suffolk, was documented at the same time.
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