This interesting surname is of locational origin from a number of places in England. It may derive from "Turnham", in East Yorks or "Turnham Green" in West London, so called from the Old English "trum", circular and "hamm", water meadow or "ham", homestead. There is a place called "Thurnham" in Lancashire, from the Old English "pyrnum", the plural of "pyrne", meaning "thorn-bush". This place was recorded as "Tiernnm" (Domesday book, 1086) and "Thurnum" (Cockersand Chartulary 1160). The surname may also derive from "Thornham", in Kent (Turneham' in the Domesday Book of 1086), and in Norfolk ("Tornham" in the "Index to Charters and Rolls in the British Museum", circa 1140). Thornham-Magna and Parva in Suffolk, dates from 1235. The surname dates from the early 13th Century. Stephen de Turnham (d. 1215) went on the third crusade. One Johannes de Turneham is recorded in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire in 1379. Thomas, son of Thomas and Ann Thurnham, was christened at St. Andrews, Holborn, London, on November 1663. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Baron Robert de Turnham, which was dated died 1211, "Coucise Dictionary of National Biography", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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