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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish

Where did the Irish Coleman family come from? When did the Coleman family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Coleman family history?

While the Anglicized versions of Irish names are familiar to most people, many Irish names have a long and proud Gaelic heritage that is often unknown. The Coleman surname stems from two distinct Gaelic names O'Clúmháin, derived from the Irish root "clúmh," meaning "down," or "feathers," and from O Colmain, derived the Latin word "columba," which means "dove."


Numerous spelling variations of the surname Coleman exist. A partial explanation for these variants is that ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Colman, Coleman, O'Colman, MacColeman, McColeman, Coalman, Coulman, Colemen, Colmen, Coalmen, Colmin, Colmen, Coulmen, Coulmin, Colemin and many more.

First found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, where they were a sept of O'Colmain, a branch of Hy Fiachrach.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coleman research. Another 312 words(22 lines of text) covering the year 1172 is included under the topic Early Coleman History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Coleman Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Irish families began to immigrate to British North America and the United States in the 18th century, but the greatest influx of Irish immigrants came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. The earlier settlers came to North America after a great deal of consideration and by paying relatively high fees for their passage. These settlers were primarily drawn by the promise of land. Those later settlers that came during the 1840's were trying to escape the conditions of poverty, starvation, disease, and death that had stricken Ireland. Due to the enormity of their numbers and the late date of their arrival, these immigrants primarily became hired laborers instead of homesteading settlers like their predecessors. An exhaustive search of immigration and passenger lists has revealed many Irish immigrants North America bearing the name Coleman:

  • Thomas Coleman, who arrived in America from Marlborough in Wiltshire, England

Coleman Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Coleman, who landed in America in 1630
  • Katherine Coleman, who arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Joseph Coleman, who arrived in America in 1637
  • Thomas Coleman settled in Newbury, and later Boston, Massachusetts. He was under contract, but not indentured to Sir Richard Saltonstall, to keep his cattle. He was negligent and unfaithful, as the court ruled, but, strangely a year later in 1637. he was admitted a freeman
  • Joseph Coleman and his wife Sara and four children settled in New England in 1637

Coleman Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Rota Coleman, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Robt Coleman, who landed in Virginia in 1703
  • Geo Coleman, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Philip Coleman, aged 50, landed in Pennsylvania in 1740
  • Margaret Coleman, who landed in Virginia in 1744

Coleman Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Bartholomew Coleman was a proprietor and occupier of fishing rooms at Trinity in 1800
  • Isaac, Coleman Jr., who arrived in America in 1803
  • John Coleman, who landed in America in 1804
  • Mrs. Coleman, who landed in New York NY in 1812
  • Daniel Coleman, who arrived in Long Island in 1812


  • James Plemon Coleman (1914-1991), American politician, Governor of Mississippi from 1956 to 1960
  • Dabney Wharton Coleman (b. 1932), American Golden Globe Award, Primetime Emmy Award and two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winning actor
  • William Coffin Coleman (1870-1957), American founder of the "Coleman" camping gear company in 1902
  • Mary Sue Coleman Ph.D. (b. 1943), American scientist and educator and the 13th President of the University of Michigan (2002-)
  • Norman Bertram "Norm" Coleman Jr. (b. 1949), American politician, Mayor of St. Paul Minnesota (1994-2002) and a United States Senator (2003-2009)
  • Cy Coleman (1929-2004), American composer, songwriter, and jazz pianist who won (or was nominated for) 19 Tony awards, 3 Emmys, and two Grammys
  • Ornette Coleman (b. 1930), American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music
  • Sidney Richard Coleman (1937-2007), eminent American theoretical physicist
  • Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman (1892-1926), first African American to become a licensed airplane pilot and she was the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilot license
  • William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. (b. 1920), American attorney and politician, 4th United States Secretary of Transportation (1975-1977), 2nd African American to serve in the Cabinet, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom



  • Coleman Family History by George Simpson.
  • Colemans of Greene County: a Bit of Alabama History by Stephen Beasley Coleman.


  1. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  2. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  4. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  5. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  9. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  10. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 15 October 2014 at 01:05.

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