There are at least two origins for this very interesting surname which is generally accepted as being of Old English pre 7th century origins. The first and most likely is that it is job descriptive for the manager of a large farm or even an estate. The derivation is from the elements 'fir' meaning strong or firm and 'man(n)' - literally friend, servant or worker. Found recorded as Firman, Furman, and For(e)man it's first recording as a 'given' name pre-dating a surname, is in the 1086 Domesday Book. Here one 'Firmin' was registered in Cambridgeshire. The name is also well recorded in Scotland from early days, Adam Foreman being agent to Lord Douglas in 1426, although again the origin is Old English. Early examples of the surname recordings include Stephen Firmin in the 1219 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, Robertus Fermyn in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls, also for Yorkshire, and William Ffyrman in the Suffolk registers of the year 1522. Other recordings include William Firmyn who married Ursula Baker by civil licence in London on March 1st 1620, and Joseph Firmin, a witness at the famous church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster on December 30th 1624. One of the first colonists to the New England Colonies was John Firman of Ipswich, Suffolk, who embarked on April 30th 1634 on the ship 'Elizabeth'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Firman, which was dated 1214, in the Middlesex Pipe Rolls, 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 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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