Norman Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Norman Meaning
The Norman surname in England may have derived from the Normans of
Normandy who had invaded England with William the Conqueror in 1066; or
it may have come from the Old English northmann,
being a term describing
Scandinavian settlers.
In America it
could also be of Jewish or Swedish or even possibly of Dutch
origin. Van Norman and variants were early names found in Dutch
New York and Pennsylvania.

Norman Resources on

Norman Ancestry

London provided some early mentions of the Norman name.

London. John
Norman was recorded as mayor of London in 1250. A later John
, born in Oxfordshire, was in 1453 the first Lord
Mayor of London to take a boat to Westminster in order to pledge
his allegiance.

James Norman of Blackfriars was a successful timber merchant in London
in the mid 1700’s. With the proceeds he bought property in nearby
Bromley Common, at the time when it was a dangerous place.

“When James went to work in London he
rode on horseback. He would be armed and accompanied by an armed
servant. The danger was real. His daughter-in-law had been
robbed by footpads on Chislehurst Hill as she returned to Bromley
Common after visiting friends.”

The Normans’ house there, The Rookery,
was to remain their home until it burnt down in 1946. Via George Warde
of this family came the notable Norman banking
family, including Montagu
Norman who was Governor of the Bank of England from 1920 to 1944.

Elsewhere. John Norman
was mayor of Norwich in 1714. When he died ten years
later he provided funds In his will for the education of the children
of needy relatives in the town.

Norman also appears to have been a name of the southwest, featuring
most strongly in Devon and Somerset. Richard Norman, the early
emigrant to America, was born in Charminster, Dorset. Normans
there were clockmakers and Quakers
. And there were
Normans to be found in the Mendip hills, in Somerset, Wiltshire and

There were Normans as well further north. Normans in the village
Duffield in Derbyshire date from the 1500’s. They held Court Farm House
for many generations. Normans were also recorded in the
nearby Staffordshire villages of Uttoxeter and Abbots Bromley.

. Richard Norman, a sea captain and shipwright, was
part of a group of settlers from the Dorchester company in Dorset who
came to New England in 1626. He eventually settled in Marblehead,
Massachusetts. Later Normans of this family moved to South
Carolina and Georgia.

Several Normans came to Virginia during the
1600’s. Some stayed in the area. Others moved onto New
Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois. Isaac
was born in Virginia in 1682 and he
and his wife Frances raised nine children in Culpeper county.
Their descendants later spread, in particular to Tennessee and Georgia. This line was traced in Nellie Virginia
Norman’s 1972 book History of the
Culpeper County Normans.

New Jersey
Oliver Norman started a forge in Sussex county, New Jersey
(by Norman’s Pond) in the years after the Revolutionary War. His
father John, also a forgeman, had come to upstate New York from England
in the 1740’s. Oliver left his wife and family and took off for
Ohio in 1808.

Also from Sussex county, born there in 1796, was
Joseph Van Norman, a descendant of the Pennsylvania Van Normans. He subsequently departed for Canada where he started an iron foundry
in Normandale, Ontario.

Canada. Normans
from Poole in Dorset were early settlers in Newfoundland, John Norman
in Brigus sometime in the 1750’s. Thomas
Norman of this family was a carpenter and, after a great fire destroyed
center of the capital St. Johns in 1892, he moved there with his family
there was an abundance of work in rebuilding the city.

Australia. Andrew Norman
was the anglicized name of a young Norwegian seaman Andreas Olsen who
came to Melbourne in 1876 and stayed. He died in 1898 from a
horse kick in the abdomen, leaving a young family. His sons Ollie
and Harry were both World War One volunteers. Ollie did not
back. Harry did, having been dishonorably discharged. He
changed his name to Skinner back in Australia.


Select Norman Miscellany

John Norman and the London River Procession.  John
Norman is considered to be the first lord mayor to go to Westminster by water.  It is thought that his infirmity may have
been the reason for the river procession instead of the usual parade.

The historian Humpherus, in describing the procession in 1453, said:

having at his own expense built a noble barge, had it decorated with
flags and
streamers, in which he was this year rowed by watermen with silver
attended by such of the city companies as possessed barges, in a manner
splendid that ‘his barge seemed to burn on the water.’”

The watermen were said to have made John
Norman a song of praise, which began: “Rowe
bote, Norman, Rowe to thy Lemman” (where lemman meant sweetheart).

The river procession became popular
among Londoners and the practice continued to be held for mayors until

John Norman of Norwich.  John Norman
was born in Norwich in 1657 and lived in Old Catton.
He prospered as a local farmer, landowner and
brewer.  He eventually became an alderman
and mayor of Norwich.

died in 1724
and, although he had married twice, had no children.
However, he was extremely interested in the
education of children and left the bulk of his estate ‘in trust’ to
educate the
male descendants of his close relatives.
According to his wishes, the Norman Endowed School was
eventually built
for the benefit of his descendants.

school lasted until 1934 when the funds proved insufficient to maintain

Normans of Charminster in Dorset.  The Norman
family of Charminster was stalwart in their membership of the Society of
Friends in Dorchester. James Norman and
his brother Ralph were trustees of the Meeting House there when it was
purchased in 1712.  James also held monthly
meetings in his own house in Charminster.
In his will, proved in 1747, he bequeathed his house to his son
“to give lease and liberty for the people of God called Quakers to keep
meetings therein as in my time.”

Normans were also clockmakers.
James Norman of Charminster was the earliest, making 30 hour
clocks with brass dials and a single hand during the late 17th and
early 18th
centuries.  There was another James
Norman of Charminster and Poole and his son Ralph who was apprenticed
to James
Norman of Poole in 1760.

of their clocks are to be found at the Dorset collection of clocks in
the Mill
House Cider Museum.

Isaac Norman of Culpeper County, Virginia.  Isaac Norman, born in 1682 reportedly in Gloucester county, married Frances (by
tradition Courtney) and died around
1763.  He lived during the
early 1700’s on Flatt Run in what is now Culpeper County, Virginia.

Nearby, Norman’s Ford was an early crossing
of the Rapahannock river which was said to have taken its name from

Ford, on the
Rappahannock River took its name from Isaac Norman of the Stafford
family who
first settled there and in June 1726 had a land grant on the Culpeper
shore of
the river.”

Isaac’s parentage is
not really known, because of lost records and the similarity of the
given names
of many of the early Normans in America.

The Normandale Blast Furnace.  Normandale is a township along Lake Erie in Ontario.  The
following plaque marks the site of the blast furnace there.

“One of Upper Canada’s most important
industrial enterprises, the Normandale ironworks and its blast furnace
played a significant role in the early economic development of the
province.  Built in 1816-17 by John Mason and enlarged in 1821-22
by John Van Norman, it produced the famous Van Norman cooking
stove.  Up to 200 men were employed prior to the closure of the
blast furnace in 1847, following the exhaustion of the local bog iron

The plaque is located to the south of Van Norman Street in
Normandale.  The Van Norman house on Front Road, built in 1842
from the proceeds of the iron foundry, still stands.

George Warde Norman of Bromley.  George Warde
Norman joined his father’s timber business after leaving school in 1810,
spending much of his time in Norway.  He
soon spoke fluent Norwegian, as well as French and Italian.  Charles Darwin spoke of him as “my clever
neighbor, Mr. Norman.”  In 1821 he became
a Director of the Bank of England, a position he held for fifty years.

Initially, like his father and grandfather
before him, George travelled to work in London by horseback. However, after the opening of the Greenwich
railway in 1836, he rode to Greenwich and finished his journey by train.

He had played cricket while a schoolboy at
Eton and that enthusiasm stayed with him as an adult.
He helped found the West Kent cricket club
and played in the Kent team until he was in his mid forties.

His home was the Rookery in Bromley, where he lived
with ample staff.  The 1851 census recorded
a butler, footman,
groom, housekeeper, two ladies maids, a nurse, nursery maid, two
housemaids, a
cook and a kitchen maid.

George died in
1882.  He and his wife Sibella had seven sons.
His oldest son George died in the Crimean
War.  A younger son, Frederick Henry
Norman, was Governor of the Bank of England for nearly 25 years at the
beginning of the 20th century.  Another
son, Philip Norman, made his name as an artist and historian.



Norman Names

  • John Norman was the Lord Mayor of London in 1453. He was the first Lord Mayor to take a boat to Westminster in order to pledge his allegiance.
  • Robert Norman was a 16th
    century mariner and compass builder. The crater Norman on the moon was named in his honor.
  • Montagu Norman was Governor of
    the Bank of England from 1920 to 1944.
  • Marsha Norman is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. She won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for her play ‘night Mother.
  • Greg Norman is a well-known Australian
    golfer, nicknamed “the Great White Shark.”

Select Norman Numbers Today

  • 30,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Berkshire)
  • 25,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Norman and Like Surnames

These were names originally given to outsiders in the British Isles that became surnames.  Thus Walter the Scot became Walter Scott.  Outsiders could also have been Welsh, Irish, French or Flemish.  These are some of the “outsider” surnames which are covered here.




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