The surname of FURMAN is a baptismal name 'the son of Firmin'. The name was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Farman and Fermannus. The great home of this name and its varied forms was, and still is County Norfolk. Early records of the name mention Adam filius Phareman, 1273 County Norfolk. Walter Fayrman was vicar of Lakenham, County Norfolk in 1369. Thomas Firman of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. A later instance of the name mentions a certain William Firmyn who married Ursual Baker in London in the year of 1619. 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.
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