This ancient English surname of GARDAM was a locational name meaning 'one who came from GARDHAM' in the North Riding of Yorkshire, near Market Weighton. The name was originally derived from the Old Scandinavian word GEROI, literally meaning 'the dweller at the fence or enclosure. The earliest of the place-name on record appears to be GERDENE, which was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The Scandinavian element in English place names is very considerable. It is an outcome of the extensive Scandinavian settlements made in England from the latter half of the ninth century onwards. They were mostly Danes, but in the north-western parts of the country such as Cheshire, Lancashire, Westmorland, Cumberland and West Yorkshire, the settlers were mostly Norwegians. Many English names adopted by Scandinavians were changed in form to conform better to Scandinavian habits of speech. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Later instances of the name include GERTHUM (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1303, and GERTHOM (without surname) was documented in Yorkshire in 1357. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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