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. The surname is also found as Firman or Furman, as well as Forman and it's first recording as a 'given' name pre-dating a surname, is in the 1086 Domesday Book, when one 'Firmin' was registered in Cambridgeshire.The second, but much rarer possibility is both occupational and residential being a corrupt form of the medieval English 'Ford-man', the keeper of the ford'. This surname is normally found simply as 'Ford, Forde, or Foord, but with surnames there are few simple explanations. 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 Alan Forman and Robert Fourman in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, whilst Sir William Foreman (also recorded as Forman) was Lord Mayor of London in 1538. His Coat of Arms was a barry wavy of blue and silver, on a black chevron three gold martlets, and on a red chief a gold lion passant between two anchors. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roberte Foreman, which was dated 1301, in the Yorkshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1st known as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. 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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