This famous surname recorded as Blackman, Blakeman, Blacman, Blachman, and possibly others, is Anglo-Saxon of pre 9th century origins. It is ethnic, and described either a Scandanavian Viking, somebody who was fair, or conversely one of the Olde English (the Welsh or Cornish) who were dark haired and of swarthy complexion. The confusion comes about because the very early (pre 5th century) English word for white or fair was "blaec" whilst the later Anglo-Saxon English for black was "blaca". It can therefore be seen that even without the major problems of dialect and poor spelling in early records, the is an obvious capacity for mistakes. Its original meaning would have depended on who it was applied to, but that it was complimentary is shown by the popularity of the name from the begining of recordings. One of these, perhaps the earliest of all, is that of Blacheman fillius Aedwardi in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Norfolk in 1166. This is not a surname, but a personal name or perhaps a nickname and the recording simply shows that somebody known as Blacheman was the son of Edward. It was this lack of identity which lead to the creation of surnames in the following century, (see below). Early examples of the surname include Henry Blacman in the Hundred Rolls of Oxford for the year 1273, and that of Robert Blakeman of Cambridge in the same year. Later recordings include John Blakeman, christened on July 1st 1591 at the church of St James Clerkenwell, in the city of London, whilst Humfrey Blackman, who embarked from London on August 10th 1635, was one of the earliest settlers in the new colony of Virginia, America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Blakeman. This was dated 1206, in the Pipe Rolls of Surrey, during the reign of King John of England, known as "Lackland", 1199 -1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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