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About the study
This project is intended (eventually) to give as complete a picture of the Kingsman - and related - families as possible. This is far from being a 'one-man' effort. At present, I have been working on the Kingsman tree for seven years, and other contributors for much longer. In particular, I am indebted to Frank Kingsman and Jean Watts for the many years work that they each put in before the advent of web based information systems. Their records and views made putting this together much easier and a lot more fun. Similarly Andrew Kinsman and Sue Valliant have recently helped enourmously with their own branches.
It is debatable whether the Kingsman name is 'stand-alone', and if it isn't, which of the various possible variations is the root name. Simple variants likes Kyngsman, Kingesman and Kyngesman occur in older records and are all treated as being the same. However, it is not yet clear if Kingman, Kinsman and Kinman are also variants with a common root or if they are completely separate. There are some definite name changes in branches, both Kinsman to Kingsman and vice versa.
The most popular view of the origin of the name is simply that it was a King's Man, possibly a servant or maybe a supporter of the King. The earliest found families were certainly Royalists and paid the price during the English Civil War, but this may not be the entire story. One significant branch leads back to a Northamptonshire family in the 1400s, mostly referred to as Kinnesman, but occasionaly Kingesman. One of these, Simon Kinnesman, was Sheriff of Northampton. This may be an indication that they were originally Keyne's Man, from William Keynes who was one of the earliest Sheriffs of Northampton.
On the 1901 England Census, Kingsman and the possible variant Kinman are the rarest forms of the name, running to about 1 in every 240,000 recorded names (about 0.0004% of the population). Kingman and Kinsman are each about 4 times more common.
Distribution of the name
Kingsman is originally an English name, although some Anglisation of foreign names has occurred (these are not frequent). To date, all 'English' Kingsman families known to me have been traced back to a common ancestor in Wiltshire in the 1500s. Work in progress suggests that Kingman families trace back to a nearby village in the same timeframe, and one suspect reference takes it from there back to the Northamptonshire Kinnesman line. The Scottish Kingsman line is now known to originally have been Kingsmill, not Kingsman. The Kinsman lines are more diverse and lead mostly back to Devon and Cornwall. There are substantial Kinsman and Kingsman families in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
A family tree project is underway for these names and any Kingsman, Kinsman, Kinman or Kingman is most welcome to join it. The original study was started under the name of Kinsman at Family Tree DNA site. Details can be found there or please contact me.