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The Middle Ages

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Coat of Arms

This interesting surname, found in England, Scotland and Ireland, has a number of possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from the Olde English pre 7th Century and Middle English "dunn", meaning "dull, brown, dark-coloured", and was a nickname for a man with dark hair or a swarthy complexion. It may also have originated from an unrecorded Middle English survival of an Olde Engl.....

Heraldry Database: Chapman


Surname:  Chapman
Branch:  Chapman
Origins:  British
More Info:  England

Background:  There are 4 general meansing to the name Chapman:

First, A chapman was a man whose business was buying and selling—a merchant, trader or dealer.

Second, he was an itinerant dealer who travelled about from place to place selling or buying; one who kept booths at markets etc; a hawker, a pedlar (English spelling).

The third meaning is that of an agent in a commercial transaction, a negotiator or broker. Cypemen are mentioned as early as c.890.

Fourth, a chapman was a purchaser or customer. A quote from 1642, says "It is not a meete thing that man should be both chapman and customer."

There is a citation that appears to be a law handed down by Edward VI in 1553. A Petty chapman was a retail dealer. Edward said "No Tinker, Pedler, or petit Chapman shall wander about from the Towne but such as shall be licenced by two Justices of Peace."

Motto:  Crescit sub pondere virtus, Virtue thrives beneath oppression.
Arms:  Per cheveron. ar. and gu. a crescent counterchanged.
Crest:  A bucks head per chev. ar. and gu..

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

Chapman is an English word for one who bought and sold, a dealer of any kind, gradually superseded by teh French 'marchand' which has given us Marchant and Merchant. As this new word was used by the wealthier people and those with continental connections, so 'chapman' went down in the world, narrowing in meaning until it came to signify nothing more than a Peddler or Packman and finally dropped out of use altogether. But it lives on still in numerous local names, such as 'Cheapside', and in the colloquial term 'chap', while its large score as a surname, far exceeding that of Merchant, shows it importance in the surname period as teh regular word for a dealer of any kind.

The surname Chapman is derived from the Old English word ceapman, which means Merchant. Therefore, this surname would have been taken by someone whose primary occupation was that of a merchant. The earliest record of someone bearing the surname Chapman in England was in Cambridgeshire, prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Some references to Chapman:

In the Curia Regios Rolls (in progress; Pipe Roll Soc. 14, 1891), 1204 Hugh Chapman in Yorkshire.

Pipe Rolls: Record Commission, 3 vols, London 1833-44: 1207 Alice Chepman, Derbyshire.

Assize Rolls: 1266 Nicholas le Chipman, Staffordshire (Chipman is West Saxon).

Middle English Surnames of Occupation, 1100-1350: 1327 Henry le Chupman, Somerset.

Name Variations:  Cepeman, Cypman, Cypmann, Chepmon, Caepmon, Shapman, Chapman, Kaufman.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
English Surnames; C.M. Matthews - 1966.
A Dictionary of English Surnames; P.H. Reaney - 1958.


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