Ham Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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The surname Ham has its origins in Germany and France. The Germanic stylizing of the name, Hamme, translates to mean “a pastoral area at a bend or meander in a river” or a “flood plane”. The Norman/French version, Hamm, is geographical as it is derived from various places located in the northern regions of France. The surname, Ham, is also found in the United Kingdom. It is thought to be an Anglicized version or the Germanic or French name, which is thought to have found its way to Britain after the Norman invasion or it derived its origins from an extinct region of the Scottish highlands called Hami from the ancient Norse word for settlement, manor, or estate.

In the county of Worcestershire there exists the remains of Ham Castle which is believed to have belonged to the owners of Ham Manor. The first documentation of the castle was in 1207, other than this reference and a few others in and around 1275, there is little historical information regarding the structure. It is known the building was partially destroyed by fire in 1650. The house which was built to replace the castle was burned in 1887.

There are multiple variations in the names spelling; Ham, Hamm, and Hamme. The variation in spelling can be attributed to a lack of continuity of guidelines for spelling during this time or it may be attributed to the fact that many scribes charged with the responsibility of record keeping, spelled phonetically.

The use of surnames in Britain was a custom introduced by the Norman/French aristocracy. Those not of the noble class would often be identified by their given name plus their occupation while others may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. Aside from making it easier to distinguish one individual from another, surnames gave the government a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes. In many instances, some of the earliest recordings of surnames are found in tax or census records as is the case with the surname Ham in Britain. One of the first appearances of the name can be found in the tax rolls from Sussex dated 1275 showing a listing for Robert de la Hamme. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century.

The use of surnames also made it easier to track immigrants to the Americas and other countries of the British Commonwealth; Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname Ham is Joseph Ham who arrived in 1621 and settled in Virginia. Jonathan Ham was one of the first immigrants to Canada landing in Nova Scotia in 1750.

Edward Ham landed in southern Australia in 1849 and Job Ham landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879.

Currently, worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Ham are found in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Slovenia. State by state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Ham is in South Carolina.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname Ham. Captain Kenneth Todd “Hock” Ham was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. Captain Ham is an officer in the United States Navy and is a retired astronaut.

Ham received his education at the United States Naval Academy earning his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1987, he went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1996 from the Naval Postgraduate School. Ham also attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School where as a Distinguished Graduate he became a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, in 1998 he was selected for NASA’s astronaut program.

During his service as an astronaut, he served as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) on several missions including space shuttle flights, as well as flights to the International Space Station. In this capacity he was responsible for relaying all communications from the Mission Control Center to the crew.

Captain Ham currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland where he holds the position of Chair of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, a position he has held since 2013.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Az. a lion ramp. guard. ar. armed gu.