Newman Surname Genealogy

as Newman in England and Neumann in Germany, this surname derived from
the Old English and Germanic neowe,
meaning “new,” and mann or
“man.” It initially developed as a nickname for someone who was
a newcomer to the area. Some have interpreted the name as
describing a trusted outsider used by a Norman baron to help him to
deal with local disputes in the village.The German Neumanns who came to America often anglicized their names to
Newman. As did many Jewish immigrants of Yiddish roots.

Resources on

Newman Ancestry

Newman appears to have been a west country name.

Wiltshire Early
were in Wiltshire where the Newman name at Castle Combe dates from
1340. They were said to have held “a messuage and a half-virgate
of land in the manor.” The name disappeared from Castle Combe in
the late 15th century but reappeared in the 17th. One family
traces their Newmans back to William Newman, a yeoman farmer in Castle
Combe in the early 18th century.

Devon A Newman
family in Devon were Dartmouth merchants, dating back to the
early 1400’s, first in cloth and then in French wines. They
prospered in the 16th century in the dried cod trade with Newfoundland
Portugal. The firm of Newman and Holdsworth owned ten ships
engaged in
this trade at one point. And these Newmans remained influential
in Devon well into the 19th century.

Dorset John
Newman was rector of Fifehead Magdalen in Dorset in 1405.
This line continued via his brother Robert and they held Fifehead Manor
through Tudor and Stuart times. Colonel Richard Newman supported
the Royalists strongly during the Civil War.

“At the battle of Warwick in 1651 he
held the gates of the city to enable Charles II’s retreat, a valiant
feat of arms which earned his grandson a baronetcy in posthumous
gratitude following the King’s restoration.”

Somerset A
branch of this family was to be found in North Cadbury, Somerset and
then at
in Yeovil. They were also at Preston Deanery
in Northampton. Another line, through Thomas Newman of
Mount Bures in Essex, included in its number Abram Newman, a grocer who
became one of the richest men in London in the late 18th century.

SE England In
the southeast, one Newman family history began in Dorking, Surrey
early in the 17th
century and proceeded to London in the late 18th. Henry Newman
lived in the Oxfordshire village of Finmere in the mid 17th
century. Cardinal
Newman’s grandfather was a London grocer, originally from
Cambridgeshire, and his father a London banker.

Later Newmans included Neumanns of German origin such as Max Neumann,
one of the Bletchley codebreakers during World War Two. Max had
his family name changed to Newman in 1916 because of the anti-German
feeling during World War One.

The late 19th century distribution of the name showed two main clusters:

  • one in the west, from Hampshire stretching north and west into
  • and the other around London, with additional Newmans in Essex and

Ireland. Newmans
in Ireland have been of English extraction and were to be found in Cork,
Dublin, and Meath. Richard Newman of the Dorset/Somerset Newmans
had acquired the Newberry manor estate in Mallow, Cork in 1686 and the
family established themselves there as local gentry. Newmans from
Schull parish in Cork, flax farmers, emigrated to Canada in 1832.

America. Newmans came to
from England, Ireland, and Germany primarily.

The Newman name is prominent in East Providence, Rhode Island (Newman
road, Newman cemetery, and Newman Congregational Church) because the Rev. Samuel Newman,
the eminent clergyman and Bible scholar, had taken his church there in
1643 to found the new settlement of Rehoboth.

Another early
English settler was Francis Newman, Governor of the New Haven colony in
1658. In 1775 a young Boston sexton Robert Newman achieved
everlasting fame as
the man who lit the lanterns to warn the patriots of the British
advance. There is even a Robert Newman Family Association today.

Walter Newman, a carpenter, came from Ireland as an indentured
apprentice in 1683. It was said of him:

“Walter Newman. His ear mark is a
hole in the right ear and a square on half crop off the fore part of
the left ear. His brand mark is a triangle on the side of the

He settled in Pennsylvania in what is now called Newmanstown.
Descendants moved onto Virginia and Ohio. Much later, in the 1850’s,
Samuel Newman arrived from Cork,
fought in the Civil War, and lived out his life in Boston.

German Newmans
The first Neumann/Neuman immigrants from Germany were recorded in Berks
county, Pennsylvania in the 1750’s. The Newman numbers increased
the 1800’s, particularly with the arrival of
Jewish Newmans.

Leopold Newman was a Jewish hero of the Civil War. His father
Charles had fought in the Mexican War and he enlisted in New York on
the Unionist side, but died of battle wounds in 1863. His
tombstone read:

“His fought for his country with the
army of the Potomac in every battle from Bull Run to that in which he
fell leading his regiment in the storming of Morys Heights.”

The abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman, born in the Lower
East Side of New York in 1905, was the son of Jewish immigrants from
Poland who had arrived five years earlier. Other well-known
Jewish Newmans are the singer/songwriter Randy Newman and –
which may surprise some – the actor Paul Newman.

Canada. The first Newmans
in Canada were the Newmans of Dartmouth who had set up a trading post
for fish in Newfoundland in 1700. The business still prospers
there. Later came Newmans from Ireland and Germany. There
are even Newmans (originally Nyman) from Finland in Canada.
Nestor Nyman arrived in the 1890’s and settled with his family in
Saanich, British Columbia.

Australia and New Zealand.
Charles Newman from Dorset, who had served out in India, brought his
family to Tasmania and Victoria in the late 1830’s. James Newman
from Sussex arrived in Victoria with his family on the Medway in 1854 (some of these
Newmans later crossed over to Tasmania to work as miners).
Another Newman who had served in India, Captain Alfred Newman, came out
to New Zealand in 1853 and took up a farm at Arlington, south of
Napier. Most of these Newmans now live in the Hawkes Bay area.

Newman Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Newman Names

Richard Newman
was one of the staunchest supporters of Charles I
during the Civil War.
The Rev. Samuel Newman was a
colonial Massachusetts clergyman and author of the highly influential Concordance of the Bible.
John Newman
was a leader of the 19th century Anglican
Oxford Movement
who then crossed over to Catholicism. He was recently beatified
by Pope Benedict.
Paul Newman was a highly
acclaimed and popular American actor.
Randy Newman is a noted
American singer/songwriter.

Select Newmans

  • 45,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 43,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 31,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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