Durham

Durham - what does Durham surname mean?

This name, with variant spelling Durram, is of English locational origin from the city thus called in the North East of England. Recorded variously as Dunholm circa 1000, as Dunhelme in `Historia Anglorum`, dated 1122, and as Donelme in the 1191, Fine Court Rolls of that city. The name derives from the Old English `dun`, a hill, plus the Old Scandinavian `holm(r)`, (Northern Medieval `holm`), an island or piece of raised land partly surrounded by streams. The surname first appears on record in the mid 12th Century, (see below). One, William de Durham, witness, appears in the 1236, `Fine Court Rolls of Essex`, and a Robertus de Durham was one of twelve Scots knights appointed to settle the laws of the marches in 1249, `Scottish Acts of Parliament`. Walter Durham of Dumfriesshire rendered homage to Edward 1 in 1296, and Lawrence Durham was recorded in the 1400, London Assize Court Rolls. Sir Philip Charles Henderson Calerwood Durham (1763-1845), wounded at Trafalgar, 1805, became G.C.B. and admiral, 1830. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert de Dunelm, which was dated 1163, in the `The Pipe Rolls of London`, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as `The Builder of Churches`, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to `develop` often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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