Sherman Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Sherman Meaning
The earliest record of Sherman as a surname was Richard Le Sherman of Hythe in Essex who was granted a license to trade in wool in 1274. 
The name was originally an occupational surname for a cloth finisher, one who trimmed the surface of the finest cloth with shears to remove any excess nap.  These Shermans were middleman who bought of cloth from cottage weavers and then sold it at weekly auctions to the clothes makers.  The Shermans of the city of York in the 14th century formed one of the most ancient of all guilds.
The main English spelling variant is Sharman.  The derivation of the word is the Old English schere meaning “shears” or “scissors” plus man implying the person in charge.  German and Dutch spellings of the name are Schuerman, Schuermann and Schuurman.  From these roots came the Yiddish sherman meaning “tailor” and the Jewish Sherman name found in America.

Sherman Resources on

Sherman Ancestry

Sherman, Shearman, and Sharman all exist as surnames in England, with Sharman being the

Early records of the Sherman
name were to be found in Essex and East Anglia.
Thomas Sherman was a church warden and lawyer who was born and
died in
Diss in Norfolk in the 15th century.
Later Shermans were to be found at Yaxley in Suffolk and Dedham
in Essex
where Henry Sherman was, appropriately enough, a prosperous clothier.  Philip Sherman embarked from Dedham for the
New World in 1634.

Sharman has been more
a name of East Anglia stretching north into the East Midlands.  Leicestershire accounted for a number of
these Sharmans.  There was a Sharman
family of Leicester with a coat of arms dated 1619.
The village of Cranoe in Leicestershire had a
number of Sharmans living there in the 19th century.
Other Sharmans were to be found at Kettering
in Northamptonshire. 

America.  Philip
arrived in New England
in 1634 with several of his siblings and cousins and settled four years
in Rhode Island.  He became the first
Secretary of the new colony.  James S.
Sherman, US Vice President under Taft, was a descendant, as were some
famous names.  The lineage was traced in
Roy V. Sherman’s 1968 book Descendants of Philip Sherman.

Other early Shermans in America from Dedham

  • Captain John Sherman of Watertown
    in Massachusetts, from whom descended Roger Sherman of Connecticut, a
    signer of
    the Declaration of Independence
  • Samuel
    Sherman of Woodbury in Connecticut, from whom descended in Ohio
    Lincoln’s General
    William T. Sherman
    (after whom the Sherman tank was named) and
    Senator John
    Sherman of the Sherman Antitrust Act.  
  • and
    William Sherman of Marshfield, Massachusetts.  Some
    of his descendants migrated to New Brunswick in Canada,
    later moved to Ohio.  Mary Holman’s 1936
    book Descendants of William Sherman traced this line.  

the Watertown line also came Sidney Sherman,
a general in the Texas army at the time of the Texas Revolution.

From the Woodbury line also came Loren
Sherman, the longtime publisher of The Daily Times of Port
Huron in
Michigan.  His son Frederick moved to
California and started The Daily Independent in Santa Barbara;
while his
grandson Frederick was a highly decorated admiral of the US Navy during
War Two.

Later the Sherman
numbers in America were boosted by Jewish Sherman immigrants.  Notable Shermans here have been Al Sherman
and his sons the Sherman Brothers, writers of musical scores, and
comedy writer and singer of the 1960’s, Allan Sherman.

Canada.  Caleb Sherman from
New England was granted
land in what became Salisbury, New Brunswick as early as 1764.  Their family intermarried with the Beck
family and their home, now known as Beck House, still stands.  Francis Sherman, born much later in
Fredericton in 1871 of seafaring stock, was a bank manager who achieved
local renown as a poet.

Ben Sherman
came to Toronto in 1905 from Kiev in the Russian empire.
He worked at his hardware store until his
death there at the age of 111 in 1982.


Sherman Miscellany

Sherman, Shearman and Sharman.  The table below shows the approximate numbers of
Shermans, Shearmans, and Sharmans around today.

Numbers (000’s) Sherman Shearman Sharman
UK     3     2     8
America    26
Elsewhere     4     1     3

Sherman and Sharman in England.  Within England,
Sharman is a name mainly to be found in East
Anglia and the East
Midlands.  Half of
all Sharmans in the British Isles live
within 25 miles of a straight line from Manchester to Ipswich.  The
concentration in the
east coincides well with one of the main areas of England where woollen
was produced in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Sharmans snuggle close to the fens, Shermans inhabit the home
counties. Ipswich, which lies just outside the northern tip of this
has the single greatest concentration of Shermans, just as it has a
particularly high concentration of Sharmans.

Why the
territorial division between Shermans and Sharmans? Perhaps
it is the result of the pronunciation
difference between the home counties and lands further north.

Philip Sherman in Rhode island.  Roger Williams, banished from the Massachusetts
colony, came to Rhode Island in 1636 and bought land from the Indians
there.  Philip Sherman came two years
later for the same reason.  He and other
dissidents signed what became known as the Portsmouth Compact for the
of a new non-sectarian form of government.
In 1639 Philip Sherman was chosen as the first Secretary of the
colony of Rhode Island.

Philip became
the town clerk for Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1644.
The early records that he prepared still
remain in Portsmouth and show him to have been a very neat and expert
as well as an educated person.  He died
in Portsmouth in 1687 at the age of seventy six.

William T. Sherman’s Lineage.  The memoirs of General William T. Sherman, written by himself, said the following about his ancestry:

to Cotheran in his History of
Ancient Woodbury
in Connecticut,
the Sherman family
came from Dedham in
Essex.  The
first recorded name was
that of
Edmond Sherman, with his three sons, Edmond,
Samuel, and John, who were in Boston before 1630; and further, it is
recorded that Hon. Samuel Sherman, Rev. John Sherman, his brother, and
John. his first cousin, arrived from Dedham in 1634. Samuel afterwards
Sarah Mitchell, who had come in the same ship from England and finally
in Stratford, Connecticut.  The
other two Johns located at Watertown, Massachusetts.

John Sherman, the
cousin, descended
Roger Sherman, the signer
of the Declaration of Independence.  Our
own family were
descended from the Hon. Samuel Sherman
his son, the Rev. John Sherman, born in 1650; then another John
Sherman, born
in 1687; the Judge Daniel Sherman, born in 1721; then Taylor Sherman,
grandfather, who was born in 1758.

Sherman was a lawyer and judge in Norwalk, Connecticut
where he resided until his death in
1815,  He left
a widow, Betsey Stoddard Sherman, and three
children, Charles R. (our father), Daniel, and Betsey.”

William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman’s
unusual given name has always attracted considerable attention. Sherman reported that his middle name came from
his father having “caught a fancy for the great chief of the Shawnees, Tecumseh.

Since an
account in a
1932 biography about Sherman, it has often been reported that, as an
Sherman had been named
simply Tecumseh.  According
to these
accounts, Sherman only acquired the name William at age nine or ten,
being taken into care in the
Ewing household.  His
foster mother Maria Ewing of Irish ancestry
was a devout Catholic and Sherman
was baptized by a Dominican priest
who named him William after a saint’s

scholars believe
this account may be a myth.  Sherman
wrote in his Memoirs that his father named him
William Tecumseh.  He said
that he was
baptized by a Presbyterian
minister as an infant and given the name
William at that time.  As an
adult, Sherman
signed all his correspondence, including
that to his
wife, as W.T.
Sherman.  His
friends and family
always called him Cump. 

Al Sherman Comes to America.  Al Sherman was born into a Jewish musical family in Kiev,  His father Samuel fled a Cossack pogrom in 1903,
settling in Prague and eventually
finding success
as a
concertmaster and court

As a
young boy, Al
would stand in the wings to hear his father play for the Bohemian Emperor.  Once,
when Al was
about six years old, the Emperor sent guards to find out who was
around behind the curtains. He then asked the frightened boy to sit
on his knee for the duration of the concert.

In 1909
Samuel decided to
take his family to America.  But in
Samuel’s luck turned, this time for the worse.  In New York he was just
another out-of-work musician.  The
pressure became too much and he
left his family.  At the
age of 13, Al
became the man of the family and quit school to work.

his youth and scant knowledge of
English, his natural talent for piano improvisation soon earned him a
as a top pianist for the mood music of silent moves.
In 1916 he had even begun to appear in silent films himself.  Al’s
composing career began in 1918 when he
became a staff pianist for the Remick Music Company, working with such
luminaries as George Gershwin.

Ben Sherman in Toronto.  Born in
Kiev in 1871, Ben Sherman came to
Toronto in 1905.
He was a tinsmith, working in a shop on Elizabeth Street which was the
heart of
the Jewish area in the early years of the 20th century.  He later established the
hardware store on Queen
Street West.

family held a big party for him at the synagogue when he turned 100
years of
age.  He was still working. On a
normal work day Ben would carry out the
sidewalk display, climb up and down stairs for stock, serve
customers in three languages, and punch out the orders at the cash
register.  “Work is
my medicine,” he would say.   He had never
been in
hospital.  He had never
smoked, although he did enjoy a
shot of schnapps
before lunch and dinner.  That,
his daughter said, was his other secret for a long life.

Active to the last, Ben died in 1982 at the
age of 111.


Sherman Names

  • General William T. Sherman was Lincoln’s
    victorious general during the Civil War.
    His brother
  • John Sherman was the US Senator of
    Ohio who introduced the Sherman Antitrust Act. 
  • Sidney Sherman was a hero of the Texas Revolution that liberated Texas from Mexico.   
  • Al Sherman was a Jewish American songwriter of the early 20th century and the first of a family of Shermans in the music business.

Select Sherman Numbers Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Leicestershire)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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