This unusual medieval surname is almost certainly occupational. It is a dialectally transposed variant spelling of the 12th century English 'Tyleman', a maker or fitter of tiles. Oddly the original Olde English meaning was an agricultural contractor, a tilman, one who ploughed the soil, and it has to be assumed that as 'tiles' were made from clay dug from the ground, the meaning was changed by common usage. The probably intrusive 't' in Tiltman may have been caused either by dialect or more likely a simple spelling error, although the surname as 'Tilt' is not uncommon. It has also been suggested although without proof, that the name could refer to a person responsible for 'the tilt'. This was a fearsome weighted sack which hung from a swing arm on the top of a pole, and was used to train mounted soldiers for combat. If the horseman missed the tilt with his lance, the weight swung around and cracked him on the back of the head! Early examples of church recordings include Thomas Tilt who married Mary Lowry at St Georges church, Mayfair, London, on November 5th 1747, and John Tilt of Rochester, Kent, recorded at St Nicholas church in that town, on August 18th 1816. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Tilleman, which was dated 1301, in the pipe rolls of the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, 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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