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In ancient Anglo-Saxon England, the ancestors of the Odum surname lived in Oldham, in Lancashire. This was a town near the city of Manchester; it has since been absorbed by that city. The place-name Oldham is derived from the Old English elements old, which means old, and ham, which means farm. The place-name therefore translates as "the old farm." Alternatively, Oldham could have meant "dweller by the long-cultivate river flat." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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The surname Odum was first found in Lancashire at Oldham, an enfranchised borough, a parochial chapelry, and the head of a union, in the parish of Prestwich, hundred of Salford. Now part of Greater Manchester, the first record of the placename was found in 1226-1228 when it was listed as Aldholm. [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
"Oldham was for a long period celebrated for the manufacture of hats, which was established so early as the fifteenth century." [3]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
Another possible origin of the name was found. "This place [(Werneth, Lancashire) which adjoins to the town of Oldham], anciently Fernet, was held in the reign of Henry III. by Alwardus de Aldholme, founder of the family of Oldham. His daughter and co-heiress conveyed the manor to the Cudworths, a branch of a Yorkshire family; and from them the estate passed by sale to Sir Ralph Assheton, of Middleton." [3]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
We can only assume that both sources are referring to that same family at different times. Early rolls list the first record of the name not in Lancashire but as Achard de Aldeham in the Feet of Fines for Kent. Richard de Oldham was listed in Lancashire in 1384. [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Agnes de Oldom and Robertus de Oldom. [4]CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Odum are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Odum include: Oldham, Oldum, Oldan, Oldhams and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Odum research. Another 207 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1486, 1480, 1505, 1486, 1480, 1452, 1519, 1653 and 1683 are included under the topic Early Odum History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Another 44 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Odum Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North Ameri ca. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Odum or a variant listed above: John Oldham (c.1600-1636) who emigrated to Plymouth in 1623, was involved in establishing the unsuccessful settlement on Cape Ann (1626), and was murdered by the Pequot in an event leading to the Pequot War (1637). Thomas Oldham settled in New England in 1635.

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  • Fireman First Class Joseph R. Odum (1913-1942), United States Navy sailor, posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in combat during World War II, eponym of the U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Odum (DE-670) and the USS Odum (APD-71)
  • Howard Washington Odum (b. 1884), American sociologist, best known for his book Religious Folk-Songs of the Southern Negroes
  • Howard Thomas Odum (1924-2002), American ecologist, father of Eugene Pleasants Odum, co-author of the Fundamentals of Ecology
  • Eugene Pleasants Odum (1913-2002), American biologist at the University of Georgia known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology., co-author of the textbook Fundamentals of Ecology, eponym of the Odum School of Ecology
  • Ethma Elaine Ewing Odum (1931-2009), American television host of her eponymous The Ethma Odum Show which ran for over twenty years from the 1960s into the late 1970s
  • Bernard Odum (1932-2004), American bass guitar player, best known for his work in James Brown's band in the 1960s
  • Harry C. Odum, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Illinois 22nd District, 1942
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Citations



  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)

Other References

  1. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  4. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  6. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  9. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  11. ...

The Odum Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Odum Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 30 May 2016 at 07:44.

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