This surname can be either an occupational name for a seller of oil deriving from the Middle English "ele" (Old English "oele") meaning "oil" plus "man" (Old English "mann") "man", or, an Eastern Ashkenazic nickname from the Germanaic "hell" meaning "light" or "bright" hence "a man with fair hair or a light complexion". The name dates back to the late 14th Century, (see below). Further recordings include Etheldreda Elyman (1381) "The Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk". Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Ellerman, Elman, Ellaman, etc.. One Judith Eilman married William Piearson on October 17th 1720 at St. Mildred, Bread Street, London. Thomas Ellaman married Mary Brevit on October 8th 1749 at St. George Mayfair, Westminster, and Jane Elliman married William Gilbert at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster of June 10th 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Elyman, which was dated 1377, in the "Middle English Surnames of Occupation Leicestershire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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