Truman Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Truman Surname Meaning

The surnames Truman and Trueman both describe someone who was a trustworthy person and probably developed initially as a nickname. The derivation was from the Middle English trewe meaning “faithful” or “steadfast.” 

The name probably emerged first as a given name and then as a surname.  It is mainly to be found in the English Midlands.

Truman Surname Resources on The Internet

Truman and Trueman Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Nottinghamshire and Devon)
  • to America and Canada

England.  The early spelling was Trewman and the early sightings were in Nottinghamshire.  John Trewman in his will of 1427 expressed a desire to be buried in the chancel at Costock.  It is thought that a recess or tomb was built in the wall of the church to comply with his wish. Henry Trewman, born in Nottingham in 1594, was appointed Bishop of Newark in 1642.

However, the spelling was shifting to Truman by that time.  Henry Trewman was probably an uncle or other close relative of Joseph Truman, the Puritan minister and writer.  Another Joseph Truman from Nottinghamshire departed for America in 1666.

The Truman spelling continued in Nottinghamshire but as the name spread west and north into Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire the Trueman spelling became more commonplace.  The split between Truman and Trueman in 1891 was approximately 55/45 in favor of Trueman. Fred Trueman, the great England fast bowler, was an example of the Yorkshire Truemans.

Devon.  There was a Truman outpost in Devon.

Again the spelling shifted from Trewman to Truman, but possibly later.  Robert Trewman began Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post in 1763, a weekly newspaper that continued to be published until 1917.  Gilbert Truman was recorded at Chudleigh in 1723 and subsequent Trumans appeared as butchers in Chudleigh and tailors in Dawlish nearby. The painter Herbert Truman came from this tailor family.

London.  The Truman name appeared in London in 1631 when William Truman was recorded as a brewer in Old Street.  Joseph Truman, probably a descendant acquired the Lolsworth Field brewery in 1694. This became Truman’s Black Eagle brewery, in its day the second largest brewery in Britain and the largest in London.

America.  Two Trumans came to America from Nottingham in the 1660’s and 1670’s, but under different circumstances.

Joseph Truman arrived with his wife and children in 1666 in New London, Connecticut.  A year later he was chosen Constable, a position of some honor in those days.  Later, Truman Brook and Truman Street are named after him and his family.  The family history was inscribed in a note-book of Jonathan Truman in New London in 1822.

Henry Truman, however, came involuntarily.  He was transported to Maryland in 1677. According to Henry C. Pelen’s 1987 book Truman and Related Families of Early Maryland, the line via his youngest son Richard extended into Virginia and William Truman who died there in 1797.  His descendants moved to Kentucky and then to Independence, Missouri, which was where Harry S. Truman – the 31st President of the United States – was born in 1884.

Another early arrival was Richard Truman from Salisbury in Wiltshire, a Quaker who came with his wife and family in 1715 and settled in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. His descendants were traced by George S. Truman in 1902 in an unpublished manuscript.

Canada.  William Trueman and his family from Hawnby in the North Riding joined other Yorkshire families in 1774 in emigrating to Canada.   They made their home at Prospect Farm at Point de Bute in New Brunswick.

Truman and Trueman Surname Miscellany

Benjamin Truman and the Black Eagle Brewery.  Benjamin Truman followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both named Joseph, into brewing, joining the family firm in 1722.

Under his management, the Black Eagle brewery in London increased substantially in prosperity and size.  His beer became the drink of the Royal family and he was knighted by King George III in 1760. He subsequently had his portrait painted by both George Romney and Sir Thomas Gainsborough.

Truman’s image was used on Truman beer labels and in advertising until the 1970s, depicting him as a jolly fat man with a peg leg and the motto: “There’s more hops in Ben Truman.”

Truman Tailors in Devon.  James Truman was born in Chudleigh in Devon in 1769 and came to Dawlish to marry Mary Matterface.  It was he who started the tailoring business in 1815 in Dawlish in a Georgian house at the top of the Strand, Dawlish’s main shopping area.  He died in 1828 and his wife two years earlier and they were buried in Dawlish.

Two of his sons were tailors.

The eldest James also had his shop at the top of The Strand.  On his early death in 1831, his widow turned to keeping a lodging house there.

Thomas had a shop in the center of the Strand. In 1835 he acquired the adjacent premises which his wife turned into lodging apartments.  His son George was also a tailor and took over his father’s business on his death in 1880.  The lodging apartments stayed under family control until 1939.

Trumans and Truemans in the 1891 Census

Truman Trueman
Cheshire     20    170
Derbyshire    120    150
Lancashire    100    130
Nottinghamshire    270    130
Yorkshire     60    240
Devon    120     10
London    210    120
Elsewhere    700    950
Total   1,600   1,900

Trumans in New London, Connecticut.  Jonathan Truman wrote the following in his note-book in 1822:

“‘Jonathan Truman, owner of this book, is the son of Jonathan Truman, born at New London, on June 25, 1730. He was the son of Thomas Truman who was also born at New London. His father, who was named Joseph, came to America from England (Nottinghamshire), in company with a brother who settled in Virginia. He left at New London two sons, Joseph and Thomas, and a number of daughters.”

Harry S. Truman and His Ancestry.  “I am sure that the good old Saxon name Truman is just what it purports to be and has nothing whatever to do with Normandy or what spewed out of it.”

So wrote President Harry Truman to his cousin Mary Ethel Nolland in March 1952.  He was commenting on the coat of arms marked “Tremaine” that another cousin Ralph Truman had brought to the President. The President said that he believed the “Tremaine thing is a lot of bunk.”  But, he conceded: “Maybe I’m wrong.  Anyway as I’ve told you so long as we don’t find Captain Kidd, Morgan the Pirate or J.P. Morgan either for that matter in ‘the line’ I’m satisfied.”

President Truman occasionally received inquiries from people interested in his family genealogy, and he usually referred them to his cousin Ethel.

He remarked:

“I think she has all the facts, although she spent most of her time trying to prove that the family were Virginians and came over with the followers of Charles I and I always tell her the first Truman to come to this country was the son of the old man who established Truman’s Brewery in England in 1666.  Ethel, of course, doesn’t like it when I say I think this relative belongs to the branch of the family which I support.”

Ethel eventually compiled hundreds of pages of letters, family lore, and other genealogical data that comprised the most complete record of Truman family genealogy.”

The Truemans of Prospect Farm.  The Truemans, Chapmans, and Blacks were all Methodists and leading figures in the transplanted Yorkshire community that established itself in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the 1770’s.  William Trueman and his wife Mary and son William had arrived in 1774 and made their home at Prospect Farm at Point de Bute in New Brunswick.

The Truemans multiplied. Son William married Elizabeth Keillor and they raised ten children.  These children were equally prolific and there were 87 children in the next generation. A reunion of the descendants of these early Truemans was held at Prospect Farm in 1875, at which time 500 gathered for an all day picnic.

Prospect Farm today is considerably larger today than the parcel of land purchased in 1775 by William Trueman.  It began with 80 acres of upland and 54 acres of Tantramar marshland. Today the Trueman farm, operated by descendants George and Ronald Trueman, consists of more than 1,000 acres. The farm contains many old Yorkshire heirlooms, including a clock made by Robert Henderson, of Scarborough and brought out in 1774.  There is also a painting of Helm House, the home of the Truemans back in Yorkshire.

Truman and Trueman Names

  • Sir Benjamin Truman was the 18th century entrepreneur who developed the Truman brewery in London. 
  • Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, from 1945 to 1952. 
  • Fred Trueman, born in Yorkshire, was the great fast bowler in the English cricket teams of the 1950’s and 1960’s

Truman and Trueman Numbers Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Nottinghamshire)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Truman and Like Surnames

Some surnames have originated from the English Midlands – the swathe of countryside which covers such counties as Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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