The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osward de Hecham. This was dated 1176, in the Pipe Rolls of Essex, during the reign of Henry 2nd, 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.
Recorded as Hyam, Higham, Hiam, Hiom, Hioms, and many others, this is one of the oldest English surnames. It is locational originating from any one of the places in England called Higham, in for instance, Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Essex, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, and Yorkshire. Most of these places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Echam, Hecham, or Heihham, from which the surname Hiom and Homs originates. However spelt all share the same meaning and derivation, from the Olde English pre 7th century "heah- ham", meaning the high farm. Locational surnames were acquired by former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually to seek work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Early examples of the surname include Robertus de Hegham in the Poll Tax register of Yorkshire in 1379, and John Higham in the Wills record of Cheshire in 1445. Hannah Highom was christened at St Marys' Harrow in the Hill, Middlesex, in 1564, whilst John Hiom married Henrietta Say at St Andrews Bethnal Green, on October 27th, 1869. A coat of arms granted to the family depicts a blue shield charged with a bend cotised silve.