This surname recorded in the spellings of Sterman, Steerman and Sturman, is of Viking-Danish pre 8th century origin. It is derived from the ancient word 'styreman' and whilst this translates literally as the 'steersman' the specific meaning was 'Ships Master' or 'Captain'. It has been suggested that there may be a second explanation for the name in that it could be a occupational for a keeper of steers, or even a medieval nickname surname for a person who was the servant of a man thought to be aggressive like a young steer! This is probably so because Hugolinus Stirman recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book for Berkshire, was so far from the sea that he could hardly have been a seafarer, although Stefanus Stirman of Hampshire also recorded in the Domesday book, came from a coastal county, so in his case it is more likely. There are no straight lines with surnames, and certainly the name 'Steer' is one associated with the keeping of cattle, so this is a possibility with some nameholders. The first known nameholder as shown below was the commander of the sea forces of King Edward the Confessor, 1042 - 1066. Other recordings include Matilda Sturman of Suffolk in 1179, whilst William Sturmyn was recorded in the rolls of Cambridge in 1327. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edricus Stirman, which was dated 1060, the records of the bishopric of Worcester, during the reign of King Edward, known as 'The Confessor', 1042 - 1066. 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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