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About the study
I started to research the LAIDMAN name in the early 1990's merely because it was my mother's maiden name. In 1996 I engaged the help of a professional family historian, Marion Harper Hopkins, and it was found that the Laidman family was interesting enough to extend research to a one-name-study.
Today there are well over 1'700 persons named Laidman in my database, and many thousands of Laidman descendants. Most of these Laidman families are connected. My data is available to anyone interested, provided they can accept a gedcom file. However, I do not usually supply sources, unless required on a 'need-to-know' basis. This is to avoid this research being appropriated by others, which leads to multiple repetitions published on the Web, most of which are never updated or corrected.
Variants encountered include: LAYDMAN, LADEMAN, LOADMAN, LODMAN, LEDMAN, LEADMAN, LADMAN, LEDEMAN, LOYDMAN, LADYMAN, LADIMAN and LADIMANE.
The variant LADYMAN/LADIMAN tends to confusion with what appears to be a quite separate family with the same name, but at least one instance has been encountered - within the registration period - of the same person registered at birth as LADYMAN and at death as LAIDMAN. I am therefore currently researching LADYMAN if only to eliminate them where necessary from my LAIDMAN research. There is also a family in Ohio, USA, of Jewish origin bearing the name LAIDMAN, but it is doubtful if there is any connection.
The origin of the name LAIDMAN is by no means evident, and several possibilities have been proposed. Because of the '-man(n)' suffix, I am inclined to believe that it is of Germanic origin.
However, when we look at the geographic origins of Laidman variants, we come up with a sadly contradictory bunch of places. LADMAN is found in Scotland (Ladman was the name of Malcolm's son, Lord of Cowal, in Argyll, in the 13th century). It is the apparent origin of the clan and name LAMONT. In 1375 we find a landholder in Durham called Geoffrey Ladman. However, the name is by no means confined to the north of England, and LADMAN may also be found in Germany. It may be one of these 'two-faced' names like LADIMAN, which is found as a variant of Laidman, but which also exists as a name in its own right, quite unconnected with the Laidmans. LADEMAN is an interesting variant: judging merely on statistics, the greatest frequency of LADEMANs occurs today in Pomerania, an area on the Baltic sea straddling the border between Germany and Poland, probably best known for its fluffy dogs.
Etymology of the name
There is nothing much concrete here either: the Dictionary of English Surnames by Reaney and Wilson does not list LAIDMAN. However, it does have LADYMAN - 'the lady's servant' from OE hlǣfdige and mann. Other Laidman connections have surmised 'Laird's man' (from Scotland), and there is even a Jewish family bearing the name (originally LEIDMAN), although our British Laidmans are undoubtedly Christian. Correspondence with LADEMAN researchers in Pomerania has provided meanings as diverse as 'a maker of laths' and 'a porter or carrier' which latter etymology presumes the name to be cognate with the Germanic word for 'load'.
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of 1913 lists: 'Lade'man (?), n. One who leads a pack horse; a miller's servant. (Obsolete or Local)'
The 'Middle English Dictionary' by Sherman M. Kuhn (ed.) and John Reidy (ed.) (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1998. ISBN 0-472-01125-1, p. 1144) gives several examples of the name, which appears occupational - a pilot or 'leadsman' who sounded the depth of the water using a line with a lead weight attached to it:
- 1345-6: (paid to a certain mariner, called) Lodman (piloting the same ship out of Burseldon to Solent, 2 s).
- 1488: Axinge hym. . If they were brokyn. . Or haddyn nede of lodman (vrr. loodman; lodesmen) or vitayle. 1485-6: A lodeman. . my master made comenawnt wyth John Yonge ...that he schalle be lodesman of my said masters shippe into Sprewse.
- 1470: Ipse habebat secum sua Nave quendam Epirotham qui dicitur Lodeman, vocatum Martinum Peris.
- 1500: So myry. . ys the grownde / That ther lakyth lyne where with to sownde, / And he ys begylyd that standyth at ye sterne, / ffor the lode man a bove, that schuld sownd yerne, / Lakyth brayn...
Bertil Thuresson's 'Middle English Occupational Terms' cites several examples of the name 'Lodman' from 1301 to 1341, and comments:
Old English 'lad' 'way, course, journey, conveyance' later also 'load, burden'. Signifying probably 'A man who bears or has charge of a load, carter, carrier'. Old English had 'ladmann' 'leader, guide' in later use only specifically 'pilot'; the sense 'pilot' however, does not seem to be possible for any of the instances here, as they all denote persons living inland.
Hodgson complicates matters in his three part History of Northumberland (Rev. John Hodgson: Newcastle 1840, part II., vol. III, p. 384) where he states: A LADEMAN was a LEADER, or guide - one that showed the lade or way to any place.
Historical occurrences of the name
The earliest occurrences of the name include:
- 1265: William Lodman
- 1301: Joh. Lademan.
- 1316: Joh. Ladman.
- 1341: Petronilla Lodman.
- ca 1346: Will. Lodeman.
And early LADIMAN/LADYMAN variants:
- 1213: Ranulphus Lauediman.
- 1279: Alanus de Leuediman.
- 1296: Thomas le Levediman.
- 1327: Reg. le Lauediesman.
- 1332: Joh. le Ladyman.
Distribution of the name
As far as England is concerned, I have collected 'groups' of related Laidmans from various areas of the country. Principal groups include (old county names used at all times):
- Auckland, Durham
- Bowes, Yorkshire
- Brough-under-Stainmoor, Westmoreland
- Cliburn, Westmoreland
- Darlington, Durham
- Hesket, Cumberland
- Holborn, London
- Penrith, Cumberland
- Richmond, Yorkshire
The main Laidman website, at www.laidman.org, has a mapping facility where the geographical incidence of all known Laidman births or baptisms may be observed.
The data includes Laidmans from all periods of history throughout Britain, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and the USA. There is even a French Laidman, Joseph-Christophe, found in France in 1711 - how he got there, and where from has yet to be resolved! In any case I welcome correspondence from any Laidman descendant, and have a good certainty of being able to point out their ancestry.
So far I have divided the various 'collections' of Laidmans into groups. Gradually as research forges ahead, enough data is found to confirm a relationship between two groups, and therefore connect them. Obviously in an ideal world all the links will be found, and there will eventually be one huge group of Laidmans, all inter-connected. This of course pre-supposes that all Laidmans have a common ancestor, but this may not necessarily be the case.
In 2002 Y-marker DNA tests were performed on four males bearing the Laidman name, but whose ancestors had not been genealogically connected. Three participants were shown to have a common ancestor (two of which were later 'proved' genealogically).
The fourth participant (hailing from the Hesket, Cumberland group) showed no genetic connection with the other three. A further DNA test was made on a supposed relative of the fourth participant, and a perfect match was found. It was surmised that either there had been a 'non-paternal event' somewhere along one of the lines, or there were completely different familes: it is notable that the earliest ancestor of the the fourth participant is registered as 'LOADMAN' in his marriage banns of 1801, but 'LAIDMAN' in all other documentation.