- Inspite of its rather sinister appearance, this English surname of early medieval origins, has absolutely nothing to do with any death or destruction. It is is locational and one of a number of dialectual corruptions of the Norfolk village name of Debenham, near the city of Norwich. It is true that there are a number of places such as Deadwin Clough, Deadmans Croft, and Deadmans Coppice, found in the counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Gloucestershire respectively, which are grim recordings of some foul deed in ancient times, but no evidence exists to suggest that any of them gave rise to a later surname development. In this case the name development leading to the modern surname spellings, are well documented and have followed the path of de Debenham to Debenham, to Dedman, Debnam, and Deadman, all versions which are still to be found in modern times. Examples of the recordings include Edward Debnam at St Michael's church, Cornhill, London in 1669, Robert Debnam of Suffolk in 1674, and Martha Harris, given as being the sister of Samuel Deadman, buried at the church of St Dionis Backchurch, city of London, in 1688. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of John de Debenham. This was dated 1273, in the 'Pipe Rolls' of Yorkshire during the reign of King Edward 1st. He was known by the nickname of ' The Hammer of the Scots', and reigned 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.