This is a very interesting and unusual medieval English surname. It derives from the pre 7th century Olde English word "hlaefdige" meaning a woman of high breeding, and "-mann", which has a number of possible interpretations including friend, companion, and foreman. The generally accepted translation has been that it describes a lady's servant, and this may be so, however its first appearance would suggest otherwise. The first known recording is believed to be that of Rannulf le Laudiemann, in the tax rolls known as the "Feet of Fines" for the county of Lincoln in the year 1202. This was at a time when the infamous King John of England was trying to tax all landowners and others in business, to pay for the debts incurred by his late brother Richard, Coeur de Lyon, during the Crusades. It seems very unlikely that a lady's servant would have sufficient stature to be on a tax roll, and we believe that the recording is a nickname for a "ladies man". Medieval nickname surnames were often what would be regarded in the 20th century as robust and sometimes even obscene, but a study of Chaucer quickly shows that the people of those times took a much more pragmatic attitude, and probably regarded it as a badge of honour to be called a ladies man. Other early recordings showing the development include: Geoffry le Leuediman of Gisborough, Yorkshire, in 1272, and Roger Ladyman of Hertford in 1296.
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