The surname of WADHAMS was a locational name 'of Woodham', the name of three parishes in the County of Essex. There are also places so called in Berkshire and Durham. The name was derived from the Old English word 'wudum' literally meaning the dweller in or near the wood. Local names derive from a place name, indicating where the man held land, or the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. The name is also spelt WOODHAM and WADDEHAM. Early records of the name mention Udeham (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Wodon (without surname) was documented in County Durham in the year 1091. Peter de Wodeham of the County of Northampton was recorded in 1273. Thomas de Wodeham of the County of Essex was documented in the year 1273. John Woddam was registered at Oxford University in 1613. Thomas Woodham of the County of Middlesex and Elizabeth Mussage were married at London in 1625. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield or in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.
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