Recorded as Shipman, Shippam, Shipham and possibly others, this is an English surname of at least two contrasting origins. It may be occupational either for a shepherd, or for a seaman or mariner. As a shepherd the derivation is from the pre 7th century word "sceap", meaning sheep, with "man", and in the second, from the word "scip" of similar age and meaning a ship. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary if and when a son followed his father into the same line of business. Early examples of the surname include: William Scipman of Somerset, who was almost certainly some sort of sailor. In 1243 he was (quote) "drowned from a boat in the water of the Parret", whilst Richard le Schepman of Hertfordshire was almost certainly a shepherd. Adam le Schepman of Essex in 1316 could have been either because "sceap" became the Middle English "ship" in certain dialects, and hence "shipman" may also mean a shepherd. Willelmus Shippam was noted in the Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst on May 15th 1635, William Shipman, aged 22, and an early emigrant to America. He left from London on the ship "Speedwell" bound for Virginia. A coat of arms associated with the name has the blazon of a red shield charged with three pellets on a silver bend, between six gold estoiles. A silver leopard spotted black, reposing the dexter paw on a blue ship's rudder, is the crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hubert Scipman. This was dated 1221, in the Pipe Rolls of Huntingdonshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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