Amongst the many unusual features which provide the origin ofthis unusual surname, are the use of similar sounding andspelling, but wholly contradictory, Olde English terms. Thepre 8th century a.d. word for white or fair was 'blac' or 'blaca' whilst the term for black or dark was 'blaec' - the opportunity formischiefmaking is clear. For reasons which are not clear to uspast researchers have taken to assume that Blakeman or Blackmandescribed a dark or swarthy person. This is illogical, for tworeasons, the Olde English (Gaels and Celts) were themselves dark,so they are hardly likely to describe themselves, the people thatthey were describing were Vikings or Anglo-Saxons who were fair.It can therefore be assumed that originally the name was a nick-name, and probably, at least at first, not one of endearment.However time heals all things, and by the 12th century the namewas both baptismal and a surname. The first recording known isbaptismal and refers to Blacheman, filius Edwardi in the rolls of Norfolk for 1166. In 1184 the Hampshire rolls reveal Jordanusfillius Blachman, which shows that the name was well spread aroundthe country. An early surname recording is that of Henry Blacmanin the 1279 Hundred Rolls of Oxford, and it is difficult to see howthat name could mean 'black.' Amongst the earliest of American settlers was Humfrey Blackman who left London on August 10th 1635bound for Virginia, having first sworn allegance to King Charles 1. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Blakeman, which was dated 1206, The pipe rolls of Surrey, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland," 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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