Fortnam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
Fortnam is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Fortnam family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Fortnam family lived in Essex, in the town of Fordham. Ancient records reveal the name Fortnam is derived from the Old English ford, which means ford, and ham, which means homestead. Towns bearing this name also exist in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Fordham Essex is arguably the most important of these towns, but all were held by Norman nobles in the 11th century.
Early Origins of the Fortnam family
The surname Fortnam was first found in Essex where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Fordham. In the Domesday Book,  a survey of England undertaken for Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D. after his conquest of England at Hastings in 1066, there were three villages or manors named Fordham, one in Cambridgeshire, one in Norfolk and one in Essex, all were held by Norman nobles.
The one which was most influential and gave rise to the name Fordham was that of Fordham in Essex which was held by William de Warrene and others. In the survey of 1086 the village consisted of a Mill, 6 Beehives, and 25 goats. It was the Norman custom that the senior son should continue the main line name, but that the second son should adopt the name of the manor.
"A small Gilbertine priory was founded in the reign of Henry III., by Sir Robert de Fordham, [in Fordham, Cambridgeshire] as a cell to the great monastery of the same order at Sempringham, in Lincolnshire; but scarcely a vestige remains." 
John Fordun (d. 1384?), was the writer upon whom Walter Bower based the earlier part of his great work, the 'Scotichronicon.' Fordun wrote fifteen of the first twenty-three chapters of book. 
Early History of the Fortnam family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fortnam research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 138 and 1388 are included under the topic Early Fortnam History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fortnam Spelling Variations
Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Fordham, Fordeham, Fordsham, Fordesham, Fordam and others.
Early Notables of the Fortnam family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Fortnam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fortnam migration to the United States +
Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Fortnam or a variant listed above:
Fortnam Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
- Charles Fortnam, aged 40, who settled in America from London, England, in 1907
Contemporary Notables of the name Fortnam (post 1700) +
- Hilary Fortnam (1946-2013), English lay minister and daughter of Thomas the Tank Engine creator Rev. W. Awdry
- Craig Fortnam (b. 1967), English composer, conductor and musician from Oxford, Oxfordshire
Related Stories +
- ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print