Jarman Family History






Most authoritative surname dictionaries - for example A Dictionary of Surnames, (1988) by P. Hanks & F. Hodges - put forward two explanations for the name (with its variants, which include German, Jermyn, Jarmain). Both explanations assume it originated in England.

The first is that it was acquired originally as a nickname meaning ‘the German’, either by a German immigrant to England or by an Englishman who traded with Germany (or who had some other German connection), and then was passed down to his descendants.  

The second theory is that it was derived from Germain, a Norman-French Christian name popular in medieval England.  Descendants of men called Germain might have adopted it as a surname (just as Christian names such as Thomas or Richard became surnames).

Both could be true. The surname was acquired separately by different and unrelated families.  (This would have happened probably sometime between about 1200 and 1400.)  The fact that not all Jarmans are descended from a common Jarman ancestor can be seen from two pieces of evidence.

The first is DNA evidence based on Y-chromosome matching. The Y-chromosome is passed from father to son. Although it mutates over time, during the period since surnames came into being in England there would have been only small variations. If all Jarmans are descended from a common Jarman ancestor, all, or, at least, a large proportion of Jarman males would have matching Y-DNA. In fact, this is not the case. The German/Jarman DNA project (see http://german.jarman.net/dna.htm) has collected nearly 60 Y-DNA results from men named Jarman (or variants) in the US, Australia and the UK and only a handful have been a match.

Secondly, there is no evidence of any single regional concentration of the name, indicating that it originated from a particular locality (and therefore a single family) in England.  In fact, it is dispersed across England and Wales, although there is evidence of concentrations in four areas: mid-Wales, Kent, Suffolk/Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire, and Devon/Somerset:








The above map represents the relative distribution and concentration of Jarmans in the 1881 census and is generated by the University College London Family Names Profiling Project website (http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org/)