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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish


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."

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The surname Coleman was 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.

The spelling of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was rarely consistent. This inconsistency was due to the scribes and church officials' attempts to record orally defined names in writing. The common practice of recording names as they sounded resulted in spelling variations such as Colman, Coleman, O'Colman, MacColeman, McColeman, Coalman, Coulman, Colemen, Colmen, Coalmen, Colmin, Colmen, Coulmen, Coulmin, Colemin and many more.


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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.

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

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Many destitute Irish families in the 18th and 19th centuries decided to leave their homeland, which had in many ways been scarred by English colonial rule. One of the most frequent destinations for these families was North America where it was possible for an Irish family to own their own parcel of land. Many of the early settlers did find land awaiting them in British North America, or even later in America, but for the majority of immigrants that arrived as a result of the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s the ownership of land was often a long way off. These Irish people were initially put to work on such industrial projects as the building of bridges, canals, and railroads, or they worked at manufacturing positions within factories. Whenever they arrived, the Irish made enormous contributions to the infant nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the earliest immigrants to bearer the name of Coleman were found through extensive research of immigration and passenger lists:

Coleman Settlers in 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
  • Joseph Coleman and his wife Sara and four children settled in New England 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


Coleman Settlers in 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 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


Coleman Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Wm Coleman, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Bartw Coleman, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Bartholomew Coleman, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1754

Coleman Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Andrew Coleman, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1806
  • Patrick Coleman from Lismore, county Waterford, Ireland, settled in St. John's in 1811
  • Joanna Coleman, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1833
  • Patrick Coleman, aged 19, an apothecary, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the barque "Independence" from Kinsale
  • Bartholomew Coleman, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Hibernia" from Kinsale


Coleman Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Emma Sophia Coleman arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Winchester" in 1838
  • Jeremiah Coleman arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1846
  • William Coleman arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "David Malcolm" in 1848
  • Samuel Coleman arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Royal George" in 1848
  • John Coleman, aged 39, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Samuel Boddington" in 1849


Coleman Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • J Coleman landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Indemnity
  • Thomas Coleman landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Thomas Coleman, aged 35, a baker, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • Rebecca Coleman, aged 36, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • James Coleman, aged 15, a baker, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842


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  • Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (1930-2015), American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer, his album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music, awarded the Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 2007
  • James Melville Coleman Jr. (1924-2014), American legislator and jurist
  • Wanda Coleman (1946-2013), born Wanda Evans, an American poet, nicknamed "the L.A. Blueswoman"
  • Gary Wayne Coleman (1968-2010), American actor, best known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes
  • Colonel, USAF Catherine Coleman PH.D. (b. 1960), NASA Astronaut with 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space
  • 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
  • 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
  • Sidney Richard Coleman (1937-2007), eminent American theoretical physicist
  • Ornette Coleman (b. 1930), American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music
  • James Plemon Coleman (1914-1991), American politician, Governor of Mississippi from 1956 to 1960

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  • Coleman Family History by George Simpson.
  • Colemans of Greene County: a Bit of Alabama History by Stephen Beasley Coleman.
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  1. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  2. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  3. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  7. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  8. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Coleman Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Coleman Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 May 2016 at 12:06.

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