The Sharman Page

Coat of arms

Sharman, County Leicester 1619.
Arms: Or, a lion rampant sable, between three oak leaves vert.
Crest: A sea lion sejant argent guttee de poix finned or
Motto: Dei dono sum quod sum - 1 Corinthians XV10 (God has made me what I am)
I have no reason to believe that my Sharman ancestors were related to the Sharmans who merited this coat of arms - but perhaps yours are.

Looking for a list of Sharman websites?

Origin of the surname

The surname, cognate with Shareman, Sherman, Shear[e]man, Sheer[e]man and Shurman, has diverse work-related origins. Most authors relate it to the wool trade. Thus, in A Dictionary of British Surnames (2nd Ed. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-8106-5), P.H. Reaney (1976) cites: Sharman, Shearman, Sheerman, Sherman, Shurman: Roger sereman 1207 FrLeic; William le Shereman 1281 LLB B; John Sherman 1327 SRSf; Philip Shareman (Sharman) 1327 SR (Ess). OE scearra 'shears' and 'mann', a shearer of woollen cloth.

On the other hand, Geoffrey B. Sharman tells me: "all Anglo Saxon variants of the name probably derive from middle English shere (shear as in using a pair of shears) or Anglo Saxon scear (shear as in ploughshear, also called a ploughshare). Men who adopted some variant of Shearman as their family name could have been shearers of sheep, scythemen (who sheared the crops) or sharemen (who ploughed the soil) or someone who used a shear or pair of shears."

Certainly some Sharmans derived their name from a trade associated with the manufacture of woollen materials in the Middle Ages. Wool was washed in lye to remove grease, then dried, beaten, combed and carded. It was then spun into yarn and woven. The fuller (or Walker) rubbed fuller's earth into the resulting woollen cloth, then soaked it in a trough, trampling it to work the earth well into the wool. The wet wool was stretched on tenterhooks on a frame to dry. A Shearman finished the cloth "by raising the nap with teasels while it is still damp and by shearing it when dry with great flat shears, three or four feet long. The finest cloth is shorn and reshorn a number of times." The cloth was then brushed, pressed and folded.
Information on wool processing from: J. and F. Gies (1969) "Life in a Medieval City" Harper Perennial ISBN 0-06-090880-7

The present distribution of Sharman families in the UK may have its ancient origins in the distribution of the wool trade.

Surnames from the wool trade

Many other family names from around the world are connected with the wool or other textile-related jobs, including: Bater, Batour, Beater, Carder, Cardmaker, Clotheir, Comber, Cropper, Distaff, Dister, Draper, Dyer, Fuller, Kempster, Kemster, Laner, Lanier, Lanyer, Lister, Littester, Maderer, Maderman, Packer, Pinner, Sacker, Shearer, Shearman, Sherere, Sherman, Slaymakers, Slaymans, Slaywrights, Spindler, Spinster, Stapler, Tailor, Taseles, Tassel, Taylor, Taylzer, Tayseler, Teasel, Teazeler, Teinturer, Tentier, Toker, Toukare, Towser, Tozer, Tucker, Tuckerman, Tukere, Wadman, Walkar, Walker, Weaver, Webbe, Webber, Webster, Wode, Wodeman, Wolby, Wooder, Woodman, Woolbyer, Wooler, Woolman, Woolmonger, and Woolpacker.

Once the sheep had been relieved of its wool, Packer, Woolpacker and Sacker - well, yes - packed wool into bags. The French word for wool (lain) lies at the origin of Lanyer, Laner and Lanier, whose ancestors, like those of Wooler, Woolman, Woolmonger, Woolbyer and Wolby all used to buy and sell wool. Stapler, too, traded in the staple of many regions: wool.

Cardmaker made the card or comb, and Carder used it. Carding has left us other less obvious surnames, including (from cemb, to comb, which has survived in the word unkempt) Comber, Kempster and Kemster. Pinner comes from the French peigneur (comber), while Towser and Tozer were derived from touse, or tease, in its sense of removing tangles. Spindler made the spindle round which the thread was wound.

And what of the distaff side? As Adam delved, Eve span the wool with spindle and distaff. If European societies passed family names from mother to children, there would be far fewer families called Sharman but many more called Spindler, Distaff or Spinster.

The Weaver, Webbe, Webber or Webster slid the slay across the threads, and bought replacements from Slaymakers, Slaymans and Slaywrights.

The cloth was lit, or dyed, or tinted, by Lister, Littester, Dyer, Dister, Teinturer or Tentier. The French word teint (dye) gave a name to the tenter, or frame upon which the cloth was stretched by the dyer. The cloth was stretched on the tenter by tenterhooks, from which we get the expression "to be on tenterhooks" meaning to be in taut anticipation.

Only two dyes were in common use, one of which, woad, was sold or used by Wadman, Wode, Wodeman, Wooder and Woodman, while the other, madder, was preferred by Maderman and Maderer. The cloth was thickened and whitened by the Fuller, Walker, Walkar, Tucker, Toker, Tukere, Toukare and Tuckerman.

To raise the nap Taseles, Teasel, Tassel, Tayseler, Taylzer, Teazeler or Taylor used as teasel, a plant with spines like a thistle. The cloth was beaten by Bater, Beater or Batour wielding a bat.

Shearer, Sherere, Shearman, Sharman and Sherman were not the only ones responsible for shearing the nap; Cropper was among that proud company. Draper, Clotheir and Tailor handled the final stages of converting a sheep's clothing into something worth wearing.

"SHAWHAN (British). Form of Sharman".

You will find this etymology of the name "Shawhan" on the Family Chronicle - Surname Origin List, S-Z page. I don't believe it.

To start with, variants of names follow phonetic patterns. Some shifts in sounds are much more likely than others. The "m" in the middle of the name Sharman is what is called a bilabial voiced nasal. In other words, you put your lips together and you make a humming sound. There is no similar sound in the same place in the name Shawhan. Instead, we make a voiced approximant "w" - we put our lips close but not touching, and we use the opening between them to shape the sound. Substituting one for the other would need a bigger phonetic shift than you find in most variants of surnames.

What are the variants of Shawhan? Seadacain, Shahan, Shahane, Shahorn, Shahorne, Shane, Shaughan, Shauhaun, Shaw, Shawhan, Shawhane, Shawhawn, Shawhorn, Shawn (which is etymologically the same as John), Shawvin, Sheahan, Shean, Sheean, Sheehan, Sheehane, Sheehawn, Sheehon, Sheehorn, Sheen, Sheghane, Shehaan, Shehan, Shehane, Shehaun, Shehawn, Shehawne, Shehom, Shehon, Shehorn, Shehorne, Sheighane, Shenehan, Shoham, Shohon, Shon, Siodacain, Siodacan and Skahane. In these names we find a voiced "a" (like Sheean), or a glottal fricative "h" (Sheehawn) but never a bilabial voiced nasal.

Some other names that might have been ancestors or derivatives of Shawhan are MacShawn, McShane, ” Shaghan, ” Sheahan, ” Shehane, ” Shieghane, ” SiodhachŠin, O'Sheaghane, O'Sheaghyn, O'Sheahan, O'Sheehan, O'Sheehane, O'Sheghane, O'Shehane, O'Shighane, O'Shihane, and O'Shyghane. But Sharman? Hmm. Have you ever found Sharman shifting to Shawhan or vice versa in your genealogical research?

Farmers were Sharmans too

Other Sharmans were agrarian. G.B. Sharman again: "Primitive ploughs were drawn by oxen which cannot be driven with reins so ploughing was done by two people - one to handle the oxen and the other to handle the plough. The latter was sometimes called the Shareman and sometimes the Coulter." The share is the heavy knife that cuts through the soil and lifts it, after which it is pushed aside by the ploughboard. The Shareman was responsible for keeping the share at the correct depth and on the correct path to make a straight furrow. (A furrow-long, or furlong, was

Geoff goes on to tell me: "Sharman and its variants were very common names in Huntingdonshire (24 per 10 000 in the 1841 census) and it is very likely that, even in Hunts (the second smallest of all the ancient English counties), the Sharman surname had multiple origins."

Sharman as a given name

The name "Sharman" is sometimes given to little girls. I'm not sure what they make of it, but lots of them carry it through life, and several have kindly contacted me to tell me that they like these Sharman pages because they make them feel better.

Where do they come from, these Sharman women? In a rapid check (involving 62 email addresses) I found 11 in New York and neighbouring states, 9 in Dixieland, 5 in the great plains of the US, 18 on the west coast, 15 of whom were in California. 5 live in the UK, 4 in Australia, and 10 in the rest of the world (4 in Malaysia, 1 in each of Canada, France, Hong Kong, Korea, Burma, and New Zealand). Why is it that so many given-name Sharmans seem to come from the USA?

The story goes that the name became popular in the early 1950s. Sharman Andersen tells me "I was named after a young woman, Sharman Douglass (not sure if one or two s), who was a friend of Princess Margaret and a debutante in 48 or 49. She was remotely related to my mother's British relatives -- and apparently an American herself". I think that young woman was the daughter of Lewis W. Douglas, the US Ambassador to Britain from 25th March 1947 to 16th November 1950. I'm told that she was glamorous and gracious, and a great hit with London society. In the late 1940s, she and Princess Margaret are said to have danced a can-can at her father's ambassadorial residence. Noel Botham, in his book "Margaret: the Last Real Princess", goes further, claiming that Sharman and Margaret had a brief affair. (I understand that the Palace is thinking of suing the author.) Sharman was, apparently, equally popular with aristocratic families back in the US - so much so, that people began to call their girl babies "Sharman". Is the story true? I've no idea. Sharman Douglas died in 1996. Why did Ambassador Douglas name her Sharman? Who knows? Do you? If so, please tell me.

Sharman Livingston mailed me on 12 August 2001 to say "What a great site!" Thanks, Sharman. Flattery will get you anything you want! She goes on: "My first name is "Sharman". I think it is a great name to have. I would like to contact other women that share my first name, if that is possible. Full name is Sharman Jean Wood. My family is from England, Scotland, and Ireland. However, my father chose the name from a county song called "Sharmon" (with an "o") by Tom Walker, from the 60's." [Actually, Sharman, I think it was Charlie Walker, and the song was called 'Don't Squeeze My Sharmon'.] I can get the info. and the song itself if anyone is interested. It actually says, "Don't squeeze my Sharmon". I don't know if the Charmin tissue came before or after." Luckily Charmin toilet paper never crossed the Atlantic, so us European Sharmans remain nearly universally unaware that myriads of hypnotised TV-ad believers are, with gritted teeth, not squeezing us.

Sharman Pickle said "I ran across your website and think it's very interesting. My first name is Sharman. My father saw Bill Sharman's name in some sports article when he was playing for UCLA back in the late 40s. Daddy liked it and gave it to me as a first name. I'm female so my name is usually spelled Charmin by people who don't know me. (Yahoo for Mr. Whipple!!)
I wrote to Bill Sharman back in the 80s asking about the origin of my first name and his mother wrote one of her husband's sisters who told me that it was derived from "Shireman". She said that in England, counties are Shires and the Deputies of the counties are called "Shiremen". So...that's all I knew until I found this page. Thanks for the info.
" England is composed of shires and counties, two almost-equivalent administrative areas. The difference is that a count was responsible for a county (French comte), while the head of a shire was a "shire reeve" which gave rise to sherriff, not sharman, I'm afraid. Sorry about that, Sharman.

I've breezed through life as Martin Sharman with nary a care, except that in France people insist on spelling Sharman with a "c". You spell out your name as loudly as you like S-H-A... and they carefully write S-C-H-A... But this is really a minor problem compared with the sufferings of Sharman Martin. Poor lass: listen to this. "Over the years people who do not realize that I am female have assumed that my name is Martin Sharman and figure that Sharman Martin was supposed to be written Sharman, Martin.... My name was a huge burden to me. No one could believe that my name was spelled correctly so they always pronounced it as Sharon or Sharmaine or Shannon... I'm not sure what my parents were thinking when they named me." Sharman, you have my sympathy, as well as my name. We should take care never to go anywhere together where we might be introduced to anyone - a gendarme, for example. And can you imagine a marriage? With the modern fad for men taking the names of their wives, I'd be Martin Sharman-Martin, and you'd be Sharman Martin-Sharman. As for the kids...

On the subject of given names, some parents seem to want to confuse things by spelling Charmaine as "Sharmane". Or as Charmagne, Charmain, Charmaine, Charmane, Charmian, Charmiane, Charmayne, Charmeyn, Charmeyne, Charmyne, Sharmain, Sharmaine, Sharmainne, Sharmayne. What can I say? If any of these names interests you, treat yourself to a visit to the Charmaine page.

Sharmans and Lollards

The sixteenth-century Lollards were astonishingly modern thinkers - or perhaps today's materialist scepticism owes much to them. They had many beliefs that we would recognise; amongst them, that the clergy were not necessarily necessary.
A Lollard shearman from Dewsbury had slept with a woman who was not his wife, and would not confess to a priest. His reason was that "the priest would be as ready within two or three days after to use her as he". What a cynic! And what a telling choice of words, too.
A.G. Dickens "Lollards and Protestants in the Diocese of York, 1509-1559".

Sharmans and Luddites

At the end of the eigtheenth century, workers in the wool trade feared that the gig-mill (which raised the nap) and the shearing frame (which trimmed it off) would wipe out the Shearman's job. Disorganised, shouting mobs did little damage, but legislation steadily removed more and more of these - and other worker's - rights. In the early years of the nineteenth century mobs throughout England gradually organised under local commanders, each calling himself "General Ludd". The Luddite riots, aimed largely at destroying the machinery that was throwing people out of work, brought the country to the verge of open insurrection. Confronted by military force and fierce reprisal, they nevertheless persisted until 1817. The Luddite spirit endured and gave rise to a sense of identity to the working class that was to be sorely tried in the coming industrial revolution.

Many lineages with the same name

Since the family name descends to us from several industrial and agrarian occupations in the middle ages, there are certainly dozens if not hundreds of unrelated Sharman / Shearman / Sherman / Sheerman lineages. I have found a few of them... and so far, no hint of a related line. Where are you, Sharman cousins? Are you all extinct? Come in, Earth. Can you hear me? Hello?

International directory of Sharmans

I've collected quite a list of Sharmans who've left traces on the WWW. And another list of sites that used to have a Sharman interest but no longer work, or which have removed the Sharman. Be warned, this doesn't make for pleasant reading.

My Sharman ancestors

I know very little about my Sharman ancestors, but would like to develop my research in this direction. The little I know of my more distant Sharman ancestors originally derived from a family bible, but this has been substantiated from the records office.

1. William Shaman = Jane Robinson
--2. William Sharman (b. c. 1814 Thorpe Lang) = Jane Smith (b. 7 July 1812)
---3. Emily (b. 5 Feb 1836)
---3. Mary (b. 3 March 1838)
---3. William (b. 1 Februrary 1840)
---3. Caroline (b. 21 May 1842) = Joseph Franch COOPER
---3. James (b. June 7 1844 d. Feb 17 1848)
---3. Enoch (b. 6 Dec 1850) = Emma CAMPTON (1853-26 May 1944)
---3. Ann Jane (b. Nov 23)

In the above list, Enoch SHARMAN (b. 6 Dec 1850), and his wife Emma Campton (1853-26 May 1944). were to become my great grandparents. They had two sons, John Harold and William Stanley.

John Harold (20 Feb 1879 Leicester, UK - 1 Jan 1960) was in Rushall, Staffordshire for the 1881 census. He left the UK when he was 25, and settled in Toronto, where he met his future wife Florrie. Two of her sisters lived in Detroit (where Jack and Florrie moved during the depression). He found work with a Detroit newspaper (the "Detroit News"). From 1920-3 (at least) he lived at 71 Highland Avenue, Highland Park, Michigan. He "retired from active life" in August 1949. Between 1940 and 1959 he lived at 52 Glendale Avenue, Highland Park, Michigan.

My grandfather William Stanley SHARMAN (19 Apr 1892 - 20 Aug 1978) was married (21 Aug 1920) to Elsie Kathleen (Kit) Jones (12 Apr 1892 - 3 Jan 1970). Kit's parents were William Jones (1868-1949) and Elizabeth Critchley. William Jones was the son of Robert Jones and Mary Ann Bailey. Elizabeth Critchley was the daughter of Joseph Critchley (b. 1840) and Elizabeth Dearden (1840-1924). Joseph and Elizabeth had 10 children, of whom Elizabeth, Jabez, James and Helen had issue.

The family bible also mentions:

Why are these people noted in the bible?

Sharmans who never had children

Two or three generations ago, your grandfather - or his father - had a brother who never had children. He was killed in the great waste of life in the "fatal avenue" of northern Europe. His name may be listed on another page of this site.

Fragments of Sharman genealogies on the web

For all the good it will do you, you could look at a frustrating entry on the most confusing family tree site I've found.

Contact me

This page has provoked email messages from:
Sharman Andersen 27 Jun 2000
David Christian 14 Feb 2001
Tommy Cousins 1 Jun 1999
J. Doe 30 Dec 1999
Jacque Dulin 27 Sep 1998
Kay Gittins 27 Oct 1996
Jan Glover (nee Gardner) Jun 24 2001
Mike Greatorex 29 Jun 2001
D. Haining 24 Jun 2001
William H. Hammons 27 Dec 1996
Lois Leggott 5 Oct 1996
James Moore 05 Dec 1996
Heather Ogier nee Sharman 09 May 1997
Nancy Pearson 27 Jun 2001
K Quelch 25 Oct 1996
Terry Richards 06 Jan 2001
Roberta 25 Nov 1999
Roslyn Robinson 30 Apr 2001
Patricia Stewart Screpetis 9 Nov 1996
Howard J. Sewell 17 Dec 1996
Anne-Marie Sharman 7 Jul 2001
Bill Sharman 23 Apr 2001
Bob Sharman 24 Dec 1996
Bob Sharman (a different Bob) 24 Jan 1997
Bob Sharman (another Bob) 27 Sep 1998
Clive Sharman 22 Oct 1996
David Sharman 26 Feb 1997
Don Sharman 01 Mar 1997
Donna Sharman 08 Mar 2000
Frank Sharman 09 Jan 1997
Frank Sharman 22 Apr 1999
Geoff.Sharman 05 July 1997
Howard Sharman 05 Dec 1996
Ian Sharman 17 Oct 1996
Jan-Eric Sharman 11 Nov 1996
Jason Sharman 28 May 2001
Jeanette Sharman 20 Jul 2001
John Sharman 9 Sep 1996
Kelly Sharman 24 Dec 1996
Ken Sharman 17 Oct 1996
Kim Sharman 26 Sept 1998
Mark Sharman 5 Apr 1997
Michael & Wendy Sharman & their Elkhounds 15 Apr 2001
Pat Sharman 21 Jan 1997
Patricia Margaret 3 Aug 2000
Peter John Sharman 03 Sep 2000
Philip Sharman2 Nov 1996
Philip Sharman2 Nov 1996
Richard Sharman17 Apr 1999
Robert Sharman 13 June 1997
Robin Sharman 23 May 1999
Roland GM Sharman 1 Apr 1997
Roy Sharman 28 Feb 2000
Ryan Sharman 12 Mar 1997
Steve Sharman 1 Sep 1997
Terry Sharman 9 Jan 1997
Terry Sharman 5 Feb 2001
Tim Sharman 1 Apr 2001

Join us...

If you are a Sharman, descended from or married to one, working on a family tree containing Sharmans, or are simply seeking Sharmans, and would like to add your name to this august list, please send me freeform your name, occupation, and email or website address, and a message for your fellow Sharmans. I'd be particularly grateful if you could tell me about your Sharman family and ancestors. If you let me know that you want your message to be made public, I'll put it on the email page on this web site.
Martin John Sharman

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Revised: Sunday, 5 May, 2002