Lomas/Loomis Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Lomas Surname Meaning

The origin of this surname is the “lost” medieval village of Lumhalghs near the town of Bury in Lancashire. It no longer exists.  But it did in the 14th century. We think Lumhalghs was probably pronounced something like “Lumhaush” at that time, which would explain the surname Lomas evolving from Lumhalghs during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The names Lomas and Lomax were both evident in this area in the 16th century and may have been interchangeable, even within the same family.

Lomases have outnumbered Lomaxes in England by roughly three-to-two; and they have spread more widely. There are also name variants such as Lummis (found in Suffolk) and Lummus.  When Lomases and Lomaxes emigrated to America, the name Lomax generally survived in the south. There were also Lummises and Lummuses.  But Lomas became Loomis.

Lomas Surname Resources on The Internet

Lomas, Lomax, Loomis and Lummis Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Lancashire and Suffolk)
  • to America, Australia and New Zealand

England.  Early Lomases and Lomaxes came from Bury in Lancashire and surrounding parishes such as Middleton, Oldham, Rochdale and Bolton north of what is now Manchester:

  • two Lomaxes appeared in a court dispute in Bolton around 1500
  • while the Lomaxes of Pilsworth secured through marriage in 1715 the Clayton Hall estate (which stayed with the family until 1925).

The 1642 Protestant returns listed 25 Lomases/Lomaxes in Bury, 24 in contiguous parishes, and a further 17 elsewhere in Salford hundred.

The Lomas name had spread to north Derbyshire by the mid 1500’s.  Nicholas Lomax is recorded at Haylee at that time and from him the name spread around the county. Lomas names in the Glossop records began in the 1660’s.

The Lomas name also cropped up in Alstonfield records in north Staffordshire around this time. John Lomas was a peddler and preacher there in the late 18th century (we know about him because, as an old man, he set down his life story).  The Lomas name was to be found as well among Shropshire coal miners in the 18th century and among those who later migrated to Rainford and to Wigan in Lancashire.

Suffolk. The Laurent Lomax name was to be found first in Bolton and then in Eye, Suffolk where the third of the Laurent Lomaxes was recorded as being born in 1493. They were schoolmasters in Elizabethan times and a Laurent Lomax was a bailiff there in 1633.  Lomax and variants are to be found among the list of Suffolk surnames. And the name spread further south, to Thaxted and Braintree in Essex (and Joseph Loomis who emigrated to America in the 1630’s).

America. An early settler was Edward Lomas from London. He arrived in 1635 and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. His descendants were Lummises and Loomises.

Loomis. A larger Loomis line was that started by Joseph Loomis who had come to Boston with his family in 1638. He established his home in Windsor, Connecticut (a house which still stands and has been preserved by the Loomis family). Loomis here may have been Lomas (his son John was buried in Windsor in 1688 as Lomas).

His descendants, who are said to represent the third largest of families in America, all sport the Loomis name. They are to be found in New York and New England and, from the early 1800’s, in the Midwest:

  • Elisha and Maria Loomis were missionaries in Hawaii in the 1820’s.
  • one branch, initially from Vermont, became noted physicians in New York and included Alfred Lee Loomis, the businessman and scientist who pioneered the development of radar.
  • James Loomis was an Oregon trail pioneer.
  • and another Loomis branch, beginning with William and Emiline Loomis, has been settled in SW Missouri since the 1870’s.

This Loomis genealogy has been compiled in Elisha Loomis’s 1915 book, The Loomis Family in America.

Lomax The Lomax name predominated in the South. Lomaxes there included:

  • Thomas Lomax and his brother Clebourne who established themselves in Maryland in the 1660’s and were the forebears of the Lomax family in Virginia.
  • William Lomax who came to North Carolina in the 1740’s. His descendants migrated to Mississippi and thence in the 1860’s by ox cart to central Texas. John A. Lomax, who grew up on the family farm there, later became known as a pioneering musicologist who did much to preserve American cowboy and folk songs.
  • and Samuel Lomax who came to Georgia with the British army in the 1770’s and ended up settling in Perry county, Tennessee. His line is covered in John B. Lomax’s book Samuel Lomax and His Descendants, published in 1991.

Lummis/Lummus The related Lummis and Lummus names are also to be found in America. Charles Lummis, the publicizer of the American southwest, is the most well-known Lummis name.

The Lummus name is associated with construction in Georgia, either the Lummus Corporation founded there in the late 1800’s or the Lummus Supply Company, family builders in Atlanta since the 1920’s. Jack Lummus grew up on a cotton farm in Texas. He became a professional footballer with the New York Giants but died during World War Two in the attack on Iwo Jima.

Australia. Two Lummis families from Suffolk are recorded as arriving in Australia:

  • Samman Lummis in Victoria on the Ballarat in 1853..
  • and William and Elizabeth Lummis who reached Sydney on the Samuel Plimsoll in 1875.

New Zealand.  John Lomas from Derbyshire came to Auckland, New Zealand in 1875, married, and started a large family there. Another John Lomas, this one a coal miner from Cheshire, arrived there in 1879 and became prominent as a trade unionist for his industry.

Lomas, Lomax, Loomis and Lummis Surname Miscellany

From Lumhalghs to Lomas.  Lumhalghs is an old village, now abandoned and deserted, near Bury in Lancashire.  Its earliest reference is in a Latin document of 1210 which roughly translated reads as follows:

“I, Adam de Bury, have given to God and St. Mary Magdalene of Bretton and to the monks serving there and to the work of the church one piece of land in Heap which is called Lumhalghs.”

Lumhalghs the place-name became Lumhalges the surname which over time became Lomas and Lomax.

1333 Richard de Lumhalghes landowner at Penhilton
1435 Radus del Lumhalges rent roll in Bury
1427 Laurent Lomax born in Bolton
1545 Richard Lomax married in Pilsworth
1549 Elizabeth Lomas born in Farnworth
1562 Alice Lomax married in Middleton

Two of these Lomaxes have been traced, the descendants of Richard Lomax who remained in Pilsworth and who later secured through marriage the Clayton Hall estate and the descendants of Laurent Lomax who were to be found in Eye, Suffolk from the late 1400’s.

A Manor Dispute in Bolton.  Around 1500, a dispute arose between the lords of the manors of Middleton and Radcliff about a stretch of land on the outskirts of Bolton. Appearing as witnesses were two elderly Lomaxes, Laurent Lomax said to be seventy and Richard Lomax reportedly ninety three.

Laurent Lomax of the parish of Bolton “swore upon a book after the lawyers to lead the way truly between Ayonsworth and Radcliff.”  He took the side of Middleton.  But Richard Lomax, appearing later, gave testimony in favor of Radcliff.

Lomas and Lomax in England.  The table below shows the distribution of the Lomas and Lomax names in England by county in the 1891 census.

Lomax Lomas Total
Lancashire  3,100  1,400  4,500
Yorkshire     100    500    600
Cheshire  1,000  1,000
Derbyshire    900    900
Suffolk     100    100
Elsewhere     600  2,000  2,600
Total  3,900  5,800  9,700

The Lomax name remains concentrated in Lancashire (with a little sprinkling in Suffolk).  The Lomas name has spread more widely, into Yorkshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire.

John Lomas, The Staffordshire Pedlar.  John Lomas was born in Colshaw, the son of a pedlar.  As a small child he travelled with his father and when he became sixteen his father entrusted him with a pack of goods and bought him his first license.  He gradually built his business until he had ten men travelling under him.  He moved into Hollingscough village in 1785.

He had been taught to read and write as a child and in 1786 he appeared before the House of Commons to argue successfully against a proposal to abolish licensed hawkers and pedlars.  He and his wife Sarah became committed Christians and they built a Methodist chapel in the garden of his home.

When he was an old man he struck up a friendship with Lord Crewe who owned the manor of Alstonfield, because of their shared interest in Methodism.  It was Crewe who asked him to write down his life story, together with the diaries that he kept.  What he wrote showed:

  • (1) that pedlars could be very successful small businessmen, the forerunners of today’s commercial travellers,
  • and (2) that hawking was an ideal profession of an evengelizing preacher (as Lomas was).

Lomas and Variants Worldwide.  The next table shows the approximate distribution of Lomases and name variants worldwide today.

in thousands Lomax Lomas Loomis Others” Total
UK   6.7  10.0  16.7
USA   2.4   0.8   5.6   0.8   9.6
Canada   1.0   0.3   1.3
Australia   0.6   1.2   1.8
New Zealand   0.2   0.4   0.6
Total  10.9  12.4   5.9   0.8  30.0

” Such as Lummus and Lummis.

The Lomax names did change in America.  Lomax stayed Lomax generally in the South (although there was a small sprinkling of Lummuses in Georgia and Texas).

But Lomas would become Loomis in the Northeast and later in the Midwest.  A big influence here were the family and descendants of Joseph Loomis (said to represent the third largest of all families in America). 

The Early Lomaxes in Maryland.  Thomas Lomax, born in Newcastle, arrived in Maryland in the late 1650’s.  He was a backer of Josias Fendall who had seized control of the colonial Maryland government in 1658 and was the Clerk of the Court while Fendall briefly held power.  He was tried for acting “mutinously and seditiously” but found not guilty.

His younger brother Clebourne arrived with his wife Blanch in 1668 and was also prominent among the colonial gentry and in the Maryland government.  The Virginia Lomaxes were their descendants.

Elisha Loomis in Hawaii.  Albertine Loomis was a teacher of literature and creative writing in Detroit when she inherited a little red trunk that had twice traveled around Cape Horn.  There she found the journals of her great grandparents, Elisha and Maria Loomis, who had been missionary pioneers in Hawaii.  The Loomises were there from 1819 to 1827.

From this family jewel and her own research of the period, Albertine Loomis constructed her own fictionalized saga, Grapes of Canaan.

Charles Lummis and the American Southwest.  In 1884, he walked from Ohio to California in a pair of knickerbockers and street shoes to take a job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.  He gained a national following with weekly letters about his escapades along the way.  A New England Yankee by birth, he gained a deep appreciation for both the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Southwest, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Charles Fletcher Lummis, almost always attired in his trademark well-worn, dark green, Spanish-style corduroy suit, soiled sombrero and red Navajo sash, went on to become one of the most famous and colorful personalities of his day as a book author, magazine editor, archaeologist, preserver of Spanish missions, advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and a crusader for civil rights for American Indians, Hispanics and other minority groups.

The New York Times wrote in its obituary in 1928:

“Charles Lummis was one of the first discoverers of the southwest.   Many a person had traveled through Arizona and New Mexico before he did.  A few had written of it glowingly.  But Mr. Lummis combined the skill and instinct of a journalist with a deep love of the country.”

A biography of Lummis by Mark Thompson, American Character, The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest, was published in 2001.

Lomas Names

  • Mahlon Loomis was an early pioneer of radio telegraphy in America.
  • Samuel Lomax was a British World War One general.
  • John A. Lomax was a well-known American musicologist and preserver of folk songs.
  • Alfred Lee Loomis who founded the Loomis Laboratory in upstate New York was a noted scientist who pioneered the development of radar.
  • Charles Lummis was a publicizer of the American Southwest by his travels and writings in the early 1900’s.

Lomas Numbers Today

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

Lomas and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from Lancashire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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