Fortesman History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The history of the Fortesman family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Essex, in the town of Fordham. Ancient records reveal the name Fortesman is derived from the Old English ford, which means ford, and ham, which means homestead. Towns bearing this name also exist in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Fordham Essex is arguably the most important of these towns, but all were held by Norman nobles in the 11th century.
Early Origins of the Fortesman family
The surname Fortesman was first found in Essex where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Fordham. In the Domesday Book,  a survey of England undertaken for Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D. after his conquest of England at Hastings in 1066, there were three villages or manors named Fordham, one in Cambridgeshire, one in Norfolk and one in Essex, all were held by Norman nobles.
The one which was most influential and gave rise to the name Fordham was that of Fordham in Essex which was held by William de Warrene and others. In the survey of 1086 the village consisted of a Mill, 6 Beehives, and 25 goats. It was the Norman custom that the senior son should continue the main line name, but that the second son should adopt the name of the manor.
"A small Gilbertine priory was founded in the reign of Henry III., by Sir Robert de Fordham, [in Fordham, Cambridgeshire] as a cell to the great monastery of the same order at Sempringham, in Lincolnshire; but scarcely a vestige remains." 
John Fordun (d. 1384?), was the writer upon whom Walter Bower based the earlier part of his great work, the 'Scotichronicon.' Fordun wrote fifteen of the first twenty-three chapters of book. 
Early History of the Fortesman family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fortesman research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the year 1388 is included under the topic Early Fortesman History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fortesman Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Fordham, Fordeham, Fordsham, Fordesham, Fordam and others.
Early Notables of the Fortesman family
More information is included under the topic Early Fortesman Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Fortesman family
Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Fortesman name or one of its variants: Robert Fordham who settled in Massachusetts in 1635; Edward Fordham settled in Rappahannock Virginia in 1728; George Fordham settled in Pennsylvania in 1773.
- Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
- Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print