This surname FOREMAN was of two-fold origin, it was a baptismal name 'the son of Forman' an ancient although now forgotten personal name. The name was also occupational meaning 'the travelling man' and was originally derived from the Old English word FORMANN. During the 15th and 16th centuries the name came to mean a leader of a gang of workers. Early records of the name mention Robert Foreman, who was documented in 1296 in Scotland, and Alan Foreman appears in 1301 in County Surrey. Willelmus Foreman of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Roger Forman was rector of Boughton, County Norfolk in the year 1544. An interesting member of the name was Simon Forman (1552-1611) the English astrologer and quack doctor, born in Wiltshire. He studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, and set up a lucrative practice in 1583 in London, particularly in love potions for the ladies of the Court, and was constantly prosecuted by the church and the College of Physicians. He left in manuscript form a 'Book of Plaies' containing the earliest accounts of the performances of some of Shakespeare's plays. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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