Wernham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wernham is an old Anglo-Saxon name. It comes from when a family lived in the settlement of Wareham in Dorset or in either of the places called Warham in Herefordshire or Norfolk. The surname Wernham belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Wernham family

The surname Wernham was first found in Dorset where they were Lords of the manor of Wareham. Today Wareham (Wareham Town) is a town and civil parish, in Dorset situated on the River Frome eight miles (13 km) southwest of Poole. The older streets of the town date back to Roman times. Town walls and ancient earth ramparts still surround the town which were built by Alfred the Great in the 9th century.

Historically, the town was a Saxon royal burial place, notably that of King Beorhtric (c. 800) and Edward the Martyr (c. 978). Like many other towns of Dorset, fishing was an important way of life that led many to the New World in search of better fishing grounds.

Wareham Priory was a priory in Dorset, and may have dated back to the Saxons in 672. The site is now home to the Priory Hotel. "The ancient mansion of Dinton Hall [in Dinton, Buckinghamshire] was probably erected by William de Wareham, Archbishop of Canterbury, his name, and his arms quartered with those of the see of Canterbury, frequently occurring in the old painted-glass windows." [1]

One of the first on record was Ranulf of Wareham (died 1222), also known Ranulph de Wareham or Ralph Wareham, the medieval Bishop of Chichester (1217-1222.) He was a monk of Norwich Cathedral before becoming prior. It is generally believed that he came from Dorset. In 1829, his bones were found in Chichester Cathedral.

Early History of the Wernham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wernham research. Another 135 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1222, 1450, 1532, 1502, 1504, 1532, 1655, 1450, 1532, 1503, 1532, 1502, 1506, 1509, 1480, 1557, 1505 and 1532 are included under the topic Early Wernham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wernham Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Wernham were recorded, including Warham, Wareham and others.

Early Notables of the Wernham family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: William Warham (c.1450-1532), Archbishop of Canterbury (1503-1532.) Born in Malshanger, Hampshire, he was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He rose to become Bishop of London in 1502 and later Chancellor of Oxford University in 1506. He married...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wernham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wernham family to Ireland

Some of the Wernham family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Wernham migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Wernham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Wernham, aged 38, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876
  • Sarah Wernham, aged 33, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876
  • William Wernham, aged 4, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876
  • Mary Wernham, aged 3, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876

Contemporary Notables of the name Wernham (post 1700) +

  • Richard Bruce Wernham MA FBA (1906-1999), English historian of Elizabethan England who studied at Exeter College, Oxford, Professor of Modern History and Fellow at Worcester College from 1951 until 1972
  • Charlie Wernham (b. 1994), English comedian and actor

HMS Royal Oak
  • Harold J. Wernham, British Musician with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [2]


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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