The name HOLMAN was a nickname 'the holy man', the priest, the friar, derived from the Middle English HOOL or HOL. The name was also locational 'the dweller by the holly-bushes' from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention Walter Halloman of the County of Lincolnshire in 1273. Johannes Halman of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Lionel Holyman of London, was at Magdelen Hall, Oxford University in 1582. Anthony Allin and Mary Holliman were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1628. There are many variant spellings of the name which include HOLMAN, HOLLEYMAN, HOLEYMAN, and HOLLOMAN. 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. A notable member of the name was James HOLMAN (1786-1857) the 'Blind Traveller', born in Exeter. As a lieutenant in the navy he lost his sight in 1810. Yet he travelled through France and Italy to the Rhineland (1819-21). He next started on a journey (1822-24) around the world, but at Irkutsk in Siberia he was arrested as a spy and sent back to Britain. He set off again in 1827 and this time accomplished his purpose. Finally he visited south-east Europe. He published accounts of his travels (1822, 1825, 1834-35).
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