Recorded as Rotherham, Roderham, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is locational from the ancient town of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The place name is first recorded as Roderham in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, the name meaning literally 'The settlement on the important river', from the pre 7th century Olde English 'dwfr - ham'. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homestead to move somewhere else. In so doing they took, or more usually were given, as their surname, the name of their former home as easy identification. Spelling being at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings of the surname. In this case the first known recording of the surname is believed to be that of Robertus de Roderham in the Poll Tax register for the county of Yorkshire in 1379, and later in 1591 the recording of Edward Rotherham of Bedford, given as being a student at Oxford University.