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Wenham Coat of Arms / Wenham Family Crest

Wenham Coat of Arms / Wenham Family Crest

The surname of WENHAM was a locational name 'of Wenham', place names in the Counties of Suffolk and Sussex. Local names usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held his land, and where he actually lived. The name was derived from the Old English word WENNHAMM, literally meaning the dweller at the homestead by a hill, from residence nearby. Prior to the Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066, no one had surnames, only christian or nicknames in England. Based on this, and our physical attributes, we were given surnames incorporating tax codes to show trades, areas in which we lived, as today we have street names and numbers. Surnames were used in France and like speaking countries from about the year 1000, and a few places had second names even earlier. Even early monarchs had additions to show attributes and character, for example Ethelred (red-hair) the Unready (never prepared) and Edward I. was named 'Long shanks' because of his long legs. Early records of the name mention William Hawise de Wenham of the County of Surrey in 1194. Selithe de Wenham of the County of Suffolk in 1273. Robert Wenam of the County of Sussex in 1525. Thomas Wenham and Elizabeth Upshaw were married in Canterbury, Kent in 1682. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and 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.


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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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