The surname BOLMAN was an occupational name derived from the Old French word 'bolle' a maker of wooden bowls and dishes. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention John Foune Bolleman, 1273, County Yorkshire. John le Bolur was documented in County Oxford, ibid. Stephen le Bolur was recorded in County Yorkshire in the year 1301. Angellet, daughter of Thomas Bowlmann was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1700.
The name was taken to Ireland by settlers, and until recently was found exclusively in County Kerry, where the majority of families of the name still live, and where it has been established for a very long time, giving its name to the townlands of Ballybowler North and Ballybowler South in the barony of Corkaguiny. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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