This interesting surname is a Scottish variant of Coleman, which has a number of possible origins, the first source being of both Irish and English origin, from the Old Irish personal name "Colman", from "Columban", a compound of the Gaelic elements "colm", a dove and "ban", white, hence a "white dove". This name was adopted by Scandinavians as the Old Norse "Kalman" and was introduced into Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire by Norwegians from Ireland. The second source is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and was given as an occupational name for a burner of charcoal or a gatherer of coal, from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "coleman", derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "col" (char) coal and "mann", man. This source of the surname is the same as that of the surname Collier. Another possible source is also of English origin, from an occupational name for the servant of a man named "Cole", Middle English a personal name derived from the Old English byname "cola", from "col", (char)coal, used to describe someone of a dark complexion. The modern surname can be found as Coleman, Colman, Coulman, Callum and Cullum. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hervicus Coleman, which was dated 1166, in the "Red Book of the Exchequer", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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