Recorded in several spellings including Cottham, Coton, Cotton, Cottom, and Coatham, this is an English locational surname. It originates from any or all of the formerly called "cotum" from the pre 7th Century word for a row of cottages.These places include Coatham in Nottinghamshire and also the North Riding of Yorkshire, Cottam in the East Riding of Yorkshire and near Retford in Nottinghamshire, Cotham near Newark, as well as several places named Coton or Cotton including Coton in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire, and Cotton in Shropshire and Northamptonshire. The surname is very early with as an example Ralph de Cottum recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1212. Other later examples include Sarah, daughter of William Cottham, christened at Great Mitton, Yorkshire in 1601, whilst William Cottam married Mary Ellesker on the 29th November 1655 at Brantingham, also Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Cotton. This was dated 1185 in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry IInd of England and known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.