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About the study
The name has then been secondarily distributed by emigration from more than one of these sources to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and elsewhere, as well as more widely in the United Kingdom. On the South Atlantic island of St Helena we found a slave line with the name, sired by a single British soldier of the St Helena Regiment from the 1780s.
In England the earliest origin of the name can be seen in the Anglo-Saxon family names of "atte Hille" and "uppe Hille". In one Devon Family Tree both these names are recorded, along with Hillman for later generations. In some earlier documents the Latinised "ad Montem" has been used followed by "ate Hille" in brackets.
These all point to a simple topographical surname origin as applied to the man whose domicile was associated with a hill in an area. It has been postulated that it could also have arisen from "Hill's Man" i.e. the man working for one Mr Hill, but no clear evidence for this has yet been found. Clearly a topographical origin relating to the man who lived in, on, up, near or under a hill could have arisen in many places in England.
History of the name
As emancipation progressed and the migration began from the land to industrial centres, so Hillmans appear as boat-people and coal-miners in Staffordshire and elsewhere in the industrial Midlands, as well as in Wales and Ireland. There was a notable solicitor Edward Hillman of Lewes, Sussex in the 1800s. At the end of the same century and into the next William Hillman came to prominence in Coventry making sewing machines, the first "Penny Farthing" bicycles, motorbikes and then the cars - which tend to be the Hillman landmark for most people. In the 1930s Edward Henry Hillman transformed his Essex-wide bus company into the "international" Hillman's Airways for a few glorious years, before he died and the airline was merged with two others as precursor to today's British Airways.
Elsewhere in the world, Alfred Hillman was Assistant Surveyor-General in the 1830s of Western Australia. His journeys and discoveries did much for this infant "colony", and a careful search will reveal both Lake Hillman, and the Hillman River named for him.
Hillmans had humble origins, and generally have stayed that way!
Distribution of the name
Prior to this we have as yet no such country-wide survey to consult. The few pre-1600 records indicate earlier occurrences in Norfolk especially, together with Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset, Essex and London. Later records predominate in the south east and the west country like the 1881 Census map.