Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Rhodam, Roddam, Roddham, Roddom
Category: 2 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way, but currently in some countries only.
Contact: Mr Brian Rodham
Although "A Dictionary of English Surnames", Reaney & Wilson, (Oxford University Press) attribute Rodham as being a variant to the Northumberland family line Roddam there are other instances of the word found in the Midlands and East Anglian region of England.
From Roddam (Northumberland).
The word Rodham in the Anglo Saxon language refers to the prefix Rod having several different usages including - 'clearing in the forest'; a 'raised river bed section' and 'area where osiers grow' with the Ham suffix related to living quarters of home, hamlet etc . The Scandinavian "Rödhamn" (in Aland) meaning 'red harbour' is also close enough to show toponamic evolution from the northern germanic.
The Northumberland County Historical Society's 'History of Northumberland' Volume 14 details the history of Roddam village, Ilderton Parish and the lineage of the family Roddam. The 'View of Northumberland' published 1776 records the township under the spelling of Rodham so it is obvious when reading these volumes that the names Roddam and Rodham were interchangeable, dependent on the author. All these publications document the lineage back to the 10th century via occupancy of the Roddam estate, in Northumberland with the original occurrence of the name Roddam being via a Royal Charter of Athelstane, king of the West Saxons in 937 AD , granting 'Pole Roddam' land in Northumberland as guard against the wild Scots.
The oldest evidence of the name Rodham can be found in the UK National Archives at Kew where a debt reclamation by Augustine le Waleys on John de Rodham in 1338/39 clearly shows the spelling variant with the 'h'. The main family groupings during the 16th century are found on the Tyne, Durham city, London and Norfolk. During the 17th and 18th centuries the lead mining industry of Allendale, Stanhope and Weardale then the coal mining lifestyle of central Durham and North Yorkshire account for over 90% of the available records.
Historically the names Rodham and Roddam have been limited to barely one hundred different family groups with immigration to the United States and Australia accounting for an additional number but overall these are in total no more than the UK numbers. With County Durham being one of the major hubs for the name there are still less than 2000 individual instances of the name variants in parish records from the mid 16th century.
The occurrence of the name Rodham in the UK is primarily found in the Counties of Durham, North Yorkshire and Northumberland, with the latter 19th century Census' showing Durham with almost 50% of the total individual count. The north eastern coastal region of the United States and the state of New South Wales in Australia also account for the largest proportion of the Rodham name in those countries.
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