Recorded as Easton, Eastam, and Eastham, this surname is early English. It is locational from any of the numerous places thus called, for example, in the Isle of Wight, Devonshire, Essex, and Northamptonshire. The general source of the name is the Olde English pre 7th Century elements, "east" meaning to the east (of the village) plus -tun or -ham. The Olde English phrase "be eastan tune" meant the place to the east of the settlement. However there are other meanings, and for instance Easton in Essex derives its name from the Olde English "eg" meaning "island", plus "-stan(as)", stones, whereas the village of Easton Neston in Northamptonshire comes from the Olde English "Eadstanestun" a compound of the elements "ead", meaning prosperity, with "stan", a stone, and "tun", a settlement. Eastham generally originates from Eastham, a village near Chester, in the county of Cheshire, or from Eastham in Worcestershire. Locational surnames were usually acquired by those former inhabitants who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Amongst the interesting recordings is that of Robert Easton who in 1685 appears on a list of "rebells" from the famous Monmouth Rebellion sent from Somerset to the Barbados Islands as slaves. The first recorded spellings of the family name are those of Humphrey de Eastham in Norfolk in 1265, whilst John de Eston, appears in the Court Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1299. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax.