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About the study

The Elsom one-name study was formally begun in 2012.


I am systematically extracting occurrences of the name Elsom and its variants from the major datasets available to genealogists and using these to construct family trees.


I hope to learn more about the origins and development of the name.I welcome contact from Elsom researchers worldwide.

Variant names

The registered variants are Elsum, Elsam, Ellsom, Elsome and Elsham, in addition I record any other variants/deviants of the form El(l)s(h)*m(e).


Elsom is sometimes mistranscribed as Elson, however Elson is a much more common name with, I believe, a separate derivation, therefore I do not systematically collect occurrences of the name Elson.


I have discovered instances of the same individual having been recorded by two or more of these variants.I have included Elsham in the study due to the proposed derivation of the surname being from the placename of Elsham in Lincolnshire.

Name origin

The Elsom name occurs in some of the major surname dictionaries with early occurrences and suggested derivations:
Reaney & Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd Edition, 1997, Oxford
Elsom, Elsome, Elsam: Thomas Elsam 1413 FrY (Register of the Freemen of the City of York (Surtees Soc. 96, 102, 1897, 1899)). Probably from Elsham (L).
Bardsley. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, Baltimore, 1967.
Elsam, Elsom
1. Bapt. 'the son of Elselm' probably a variant of Anselm.
Robert Elselm, co Kent 1273. A. (Hundred Rolls 1273)
Ralph Elselm, co Kent ibid
Richard Elselm, co Kent ibid
2. Local 'of Elsham' a parish in co. Lincoln, five miles from Glandford Bridge.
Hugh de Elsam, co. Lincoln 1273. A. (Hundred Rolls 1273)
1665. Married - Alexander Cooper and Eliz. Elsam: St Jas. Clerkenwell, iii. 119
1787 -George Jones and Priscilla Elsom: St Geo. Han. Sq. i 400, London,2,2; MDB (Modern Domesday Book 1873) (co. Lincoln), 0,1;Manchester,1,1.
Harrison, Henry. Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary
Elsam, Elsom - For Elsham q.v.
Elsham (Eng) Bel. to Elsham (Lincs)


Whilst the proposed derivations and early occurrences quoted above are interesting there is no evidence presented that the modern forms of the name are actually descended from these early occurrences. Today we have many more sources at our disposal than the compilers of these dictionaries did and I hope that through this study we will find evidence for the origin of modern occurrences of the name.

Name frequency

To give an idea of the present day frequency and distribution of the Elsom name and its variants I have logged the numbers found in some of the more recent datasets available from around the world:
  UK US Canada Australia New Zealand
Source 2002 Electoral Register 1940 Census 1974 Voters List 1980 Electoral Rolls 1981 Electoral Rolls
Website Findmypast Ancestry Ancestry Ancestry Ancestry
Elsom 855 202 20 68 29
Elsum 1 2 0 78 0
Elsam 133 8 2 2 0
Ellsom 23 4 0 0 0
Elsome 48 1 0 4 0
Elsham 10 11 0 0 0
Ellsum 22 0 0 0 0

Distribution of the name

It seems clear that Elsom is an English name. The name is found at its highest frequency in Lincolnshire, England.In the 1841 census approximately one third of occurrences are in Lincolnshire, it also occurs in numbers in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, London & Middlesex, and Kent.


So far, data collected relates to England and includes:
  • GRO indexes of births, marriages and deaths
  • UK census 1841-1911
  • Wills
  • Parish registers
  • National Burial Index

I would love to hear from researchers who would like to contribute to the database, particularly details from any birth, marriage and death certificates held, or information from wills.

I am currently collecting data from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.


There is currently no DNA project being carried out in conjunction with this study, however this is something that I am interested in developing in the future. If you are interested in participating in an ELSOM DNA project please email me.