Mann Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Mann Surname Meaning

Mann meaning “man” is Germanic in origin and was probably brought to England by Saxon settlers prior to the Norman Conquest.  

Its earliest connotation seems to have been as a nickname for someone of heroic stature who was fierce and strong. Later the meaning appears to have been reversed and Man or Mann became an occupational name for a servant or someone who, in the feudal sense, owed a service.

The Scottish version of Mann, found in NE Scotland, was a corruption of the Scandinavian Magnus name.  The Jewish Mann name is largely ornamental.  The Mann name also appears in India.

Mann Surname Resources on The Internet

Mann Surname Ancestry

  • from Germany (Saxony) and England and Scotland (East Coast)
  • to Ireland (Ulster), America, Canada, India and Australia

There are some 20,000 Manns in Germany today, with the main concentration being in Saxony in SE Germany. However, the most famous German Mann – the writer Thomas Mann – came from the town of Lubeck in northern Germany.

EnglandThe early evidence of the Man or Mann surname in England was along the east coast, from northern Kent through East Anglia to Yorkshire.

East CoastThe Saxon family of Man in Kent was of importance before the Conquest. Their first seat was in the parish of Bredgar where they gave their name to an estate known as Mann’s Manor.

Later Mans or Manns were:

  • William Man who appeared in Yorkshire as early as 1185 in the register of the Knights Templar.  There was a Mann family at Doncaster in south Yorkshire by 1500.  William Man was recorded at Bramley Grange in north Yorkshire as early as 1481.  Mann families were still farming in the area in 1841.
  • the Manns of Ipswich in Suffolk who were established in the town also around 1500.  Edward Mann married Dorothy Mannock there in 1625.  From this line came Robert Mann, a successful London merchant, and Galfridus Mann, successful also as an army clothier.  The Mann baronets of Linton Hall in Kent ensued in 1755, the first being a diplomat abroad and the second a cricket lover at home.
  • Richard Mann, the son of Samuel and Ann Mann, who was born in Norwich in 1611.  He was an emigrant to New England in the 1630’s. John Mann was mayor of Norwich in 1653.
  • while a Mann family at Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex has been evident from the 1600’s to the 1900’s.  One line of this family came to Ireland in 1633.  Another Essex line has been traced back to William Mann who married Mary Harvey in Colchester in the 1730’s.

Elsewhere.  The Man or Mann name also appeared in some west country outposts.   The clergyman John Man who became Dean of Gloucester in 1566 was born in the village of Lacock in Wiltshire.  Another John Man was a prominent Dorset merchant four times the mayor of Poole in the mid-1500’s.  Manns at Widecombe-in-the-Moor in Devon also dated from the 16th century.

Scotland.  Man or Mann in Scotland is a shortened form of the Scandinavian Magnus name.  Traditionally they have come from NE Scotland and been associated with the Gunn clan there.  George Fraser Black in his 1946 The Surnames of Scotland recorded the following early Mans in that part of Scotland.  

“John Man was admitted as a burgess of Aberdeen in 1399; while Christina Man was recorded in Aberdeen in 1411.  Andrew Man was resident in Brechin in 1472 and Andro Man was executed in Aberdeen in 1597 for witchcraft.”   

Many Manns departed the area in the 19th century, to Canada in particular.  Angus has the largest number of Manns in Scotland today.

Ireland.  Manns in Ireland are most likely to be found in Ulster.

Henry Mann from Essex arrived in 1633 and settled in county Cork. The line from his son Deane established itself at Dunmoyle township in Tyrone.   When some money came into the family in the mid-1800’s they built Dunmoyle Lodge.

Mann in Antrim could be Scottish or even Irish (as a contraction of Mahon) in origin.  Some Scots Irish Manns, such as John Mann in 1732, departed early, in his case to Pennsylvania.  Joseph Mann was a pawnbroker from Glasgow who set up his business in Belfast in 1858.  He and his wife Kate raised ten children there.

America.  English Manns came first, followed by larger numbers of Manns from Germany – on the basis of the passenger arrival records of their country of origin.

New England.  There were two notable early Mann lines in New England:

  • Richard Mann from Norfolk who arrived in Scituate, Massachusetts in 1636.
  • and William Mann from Kent who came to Cambridge, Massachusetts sometime in the 1640’s.

Richard Mann’s line was first traced in George Mann’s 1884 book Mann Memorial.  Seven generations of his family lived in Scituate, including five in the Mann farmhouse which has recently been restored as a museum.

One line through his grandson Nathaniel Mann settled in Hebron, Connecticut and, after the Revolutionary War, in Utica, New York.  Abijah and Charles Mann were New York Congressmen there. Charles’s son Matthew was one of the physicians who attended President William McKinley after he had been shot in 1901.

William’s line extended to his son the Rev. Samuel Mann, who was born in Cambridge in 1647, and much later to Horace Mann who made his mark reforming the public school system in Massachusetts in the 1840’s.  One line from Timothy Mann, who was apparently ostrasized by the family in 1758 for marrying an Indian girl, made their home in Dummerston, Vermont.

Virginia.  The Virginia settlers were first English, and then Irish and German.

Robert Mann dated from about 1642 in Henrico county.  He grew tobacco on the southside of the James river basin and above the Appomattox river in an area known as the Mann triangle.  Thomas Mann meanwhile had come to Nansemond county sometime in the 1650’s. Later Thomas Manns of his family settled in North Carolina.

Augusta county could boast both Scots Irish and German Manns.

John Mann who came from Ulster in 1735 was an early settler in Augusta county.   He was a blacksmith living on the south side of Peaked Mountain.   Legend has it that he and his family lived in a saltpetre cave when they first arrived from Ireland.  Son William, an Indian trader who settled in Botetourt county, died of his wounds from an Indian attack in 1778.  His descendants Isaac and Edwin Mann were prominent businessmen in Bramwell, West Virginia a century or so later.

In 1732 Jerg Bernhart Mohn aka George Bernhart Mann had made his way with his family from their home in the German Palatinate via Rotterdam to Philadelphia.  Twelve years later they were also in the Peaked Mountain area of Augusta county.  Their son George, born in America in 1734, migrated west to Kentucky and Ohio.  His story was narrated in Dorothy Knoff’s 1977 book Goerge Adam Mann: A Family on Four Frontiers.

Elsewhere.  Pennsylvania also had Mann Irish and German arrivals.  Peter Mann from the Rhineland Palatinate, for instance, arrived in Philadelphia with his family on the Royal Union in 1750.  They settled in Bethel township, Bedford county.

Thomas Mann, who was born in Ireland and came to America sometime in the 1760’s, was the forebear of the Mann axe-making family of central Pennsylvania.  William Mann began this enterprise with his brother Harvey in 1825. Four generations of the family were active in axe manufacture for close on a hundred years.

Canada.  Isaac Mann was born in New York and lived there at the time of the Revolutionary War, serving as a colonel in the British militia under Burgoyne.  As a Loyalist in a losing cause he was granted lands in Canada.  In 1784 he settled in the Gaspe region of Quebec with his three sons. They made their home in what became known as the Mann Settlement.

A much later arrival was Daniel Mann from upstate New York, a soldier in the American Civil War, who came to St. Thomas in SW Ontario with his family shortly thereafter.  They were among its first settlers.  Daniel’s line extended back to Captain Benjamin Mann from Massachusetts who fought in the Revolutionary War and to James Mann who was born in Boston around the year 1690.

Some Scottish Manns headed for Canada in the 19th century.  Their numbers included:

  • William Mann and his family from Morayshire who settled in Baltimore, Ontario in the 1830’s
  • and Donald Mann from Glengarry in Invernessshire who came to Acton, Ontario in the 1840’s.  His grandson Sir Donald Mann was a prominent Canadian railroad contractor and entrepreneur of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

India.  Mann can also be a Hindu name, from the Mann Jat clan or grouping that was first recorded in India in the 1600’s.  Mann Jats have lived mainly in rural areas and would take great pride in their ancestry and their physical prowess.

Australia.  Charles Mann from Suffolk trained as a lawyer in London and came out to South Australia in 1837 as its first Advocate General.  He was married four times.  Three of his sons survived him, the eldest Charles serving four times in the 1880’s as Attorney General of South Australia.

Mann Surname Miscellany

The Man Family of Kent.  The Saxon family of Man in Kent was for a time known as Le Man or Lyman, perhaps in deference to their Norman conquerors.  It was William Man – a man who rode with Richard the Lionheart in the Crusade to Jerusalem – who first secured the family manor, still known as Mann’s Manor, in the parish of Bredgar half way between Rochester and Canterbury.

His descendants subsequently possessed the manors of Sweet-Arden, Bonnington, Aldrington, and others in Kent. From the reign of Henry III in the 13th century they held the Aldermanry of the West Gate in Canterbury by Grand Serjeanty, being obliged to furnish five knights for its defense.

The earliest traceable ancestor was Saloman Le Man, born at Mann’s Manor in the early 1400’s.  Later Mans were to be found at Broad Oaks, just outside Canterbury.  The line extended to William Man who came to New England in the 1640’s and was one of the earliest settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Manns of Bramley Grange in North Yorkshire.  It was recorded that William Man was tending to Bramley Grange in the parish of Kirkby Malzeard on behalf of the Convent of Fountains as early as the year 1481.  John Man held that position in 1524.   In. 1540 Edward Man and his wife Agnes were tenants there.

Sometime around 1580 Bramley Grange was purchased by William Mann whose monumental effigy can be seen on a small brass in Kirkby church.  His descendants continued to maintain a gentry position until the death of a later William Mann in 1723.  Members of a younger branch of the family resided at Grewelthorpe in the same parish well into the 1800’s.  William and Anthony Mann were recorded as farmers there in the 1841 census.

Manns in America by Country of Origin

Country Total Percent
Germany    650    41
England    525    33
Ireland    265    17
Scotland    130     9
Total   1,570   100

The totals above are derived from passenger shipping records.

The Mann Farmhouse in Scituate, Massachusetts.  The Mann Farmhouse and Museum is located at 108 Greenfield Lane in Scituate, Massachusetts.  The marker outside reads:

“1636-1976.  Mann historical museum.  A unique historical site in that its construction spans nearly three centuries. Five generations of the Mann family lived in this house.  They were direct descendants of Richard Mann who settled in Scituate in 1636.”

Richard Mann had lived on North Scituate’s Mann Hill overlooking Mushquashcut Pond where he met his death in 1656.  It was John Mann or possibly his father Captain Thomas Mann who built this typical full Cape house.  The ell was added and served as a summer kitchen, storage area and workshop.

Percy Mann, the grandson of John Mann and a seventh generation descendant of Richard Mann, lived in the house until 1968.  He died at the age of 93.

After Percy had had a run-in with the town’s officials in the 1920’s, he decided that rather than pay vehicle registration fees, driver’s license fees, and car insurance, he would just drive his automobile into the back yard, park it and never drive it again.  Over the course of time a tree grew up through the middle of the car, which remains where Percy left it almost a century ago.  At the eastern end of the land is the final resting spot of Zebby, Percy’s beloved horse.

The artifacts in the house include primitive Pilgrim furniture, carpenter and shoe making tools, military items, china, children’s toys, early farming equipment and many valuable documents and books.  The collection reflects the varied trades at which the Manns worked: farming, maritime trade, soldiery in every American war, religion, education, sail making, and more.

Jerg Bernhart Mohn aka George Bernhart Mann.  In 1732 Mohn and his family traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam where they boarded a small schooner, the Pink Plaisance.  After a stop on the Isle of Wight, the ship sailed for Philadelphia.  The sailing ships took about 10-12 weeks to cross the Atlantic.  They were usually crowded ships with spoiled food and frequent illnesses.

His signature should be properly read as Jerg Bernhart Mohn.  However, the ship’s captain wrote it as Jurrig Bernhart Man. The English clerks, writing the name phonetically, decided he was to be George Bernhart Mann.  They recorded that he was traveling with his wife Anna Margaret and his children Johann Jacob, Georg Bernhard, Maria Margaret, and baby Anna Maria aged just six months. Georg was also later found as George Barnet Mann and Barnet Mann.

In 1744 they sold their land in Pennsylvania and the family was off to Augusta county, Virginia.  By 1749 their new farms were surveyed and registered with the court.  Barnet Mann had 320 acres and his son Jacob 260 acres in Stony Run creek, lying between Shanando and the Peaked Mountain.  The Peaked Mountain Lutheran Church was a place for Germans like the Manns to come together.

The patriarch George Bernhart Mann remained there until he died in 1769.

William Mann and Family – from Scotland to Canada.  William Mann was born in Duffus parish, Morayshire in 1798.  Sometime in the 1830’s he and his wife Margaret and their six children left their home in Urquhart for Canada. They settled in a small village called Baltimore, just north of Cobourg and Lake Ontario.  William had a large farm there.  Their son John, a carpenter, built a home for his parents on the land.

The family helped build the original Baltimore Presbyterian Church.  That church is long gone.  But the cemetery and burial site of the Mann family remains as the Old Scotch Burying Ground.  The church and its successor are known locally as the Mann Church.  Many Mann descendants still attend the church and have prominent roles there.

Reader Feedback – Mann in India.  There is Mann in India also and some parts of other south Asian countries. In India some people use Mann as it is and some use Maan rather than Mann.  Arpit Mann (

Mann Names

  • John Man was a Protestant cleric who was made Dean of Gloucester in 1566.
  • Horace Mann who was appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837 has been called the father of American public school education.
  • Sir Donald Mann was a leading Canadian railroad contractor of the late 19th century.
  • Al Mann was a Jewish entrepreneur who founded many successful companies in the American aerospace and medical industries in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Shelly Manne was a prominent American jazz drummer, usually associated with West Coast jazz.

Mann Numbers Today

  • 27,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 35,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Mann and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.


Written by Colin Shelley

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