Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Stairman, Stairmond
Category: 3 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way on a global basis.
Contact: Ms Lesley Dove
On July 10th 1612, Thomas Stairman of Tunstall, near Catterick, was arraigned for brewing ale to sell in the Quarter Sessions at Northallerton, and the Stairman name entered history. Research to date suggests that Thomas is the common ancestor to the entire Stairmand family and that everyone who has borne that name is related to each other, genetically, by marriage or possibly by adoption. The only exception to this is the Stairman family in the USA who appear to be descended from eastern-european migrants, however, even they may have got the idea for the anglicisation of their name from Sarah Frances Stairmand who worked as a stewardess on board transatlantic liners in the early part of the 20th century. They are not yet included in the study.
Please contact me if you can point out any errors, help to find those Stairmand relatives who I have not been able to trace and add descendants of female Stairmands. Any and all photographs would be very welcome to bring this genealogy to life!
Please visit https://stairmand.one-name.net/
The first occurrence of the name is Thomas Stairman in 1612. Geoff Stairmand suggests that the origin of the surname is Scandinavian. Catterick is certainly in an area where Danish influence was strong. He postulates that the surname is derived from the norse word "styrman" which means the second-in-command of a ship. There are instances of this surname in Denmark and Norway. There were two great migrations of Norwegians to Britain, the first early one from about 900AD onwards and the second from about 1700AD. Since the name is established in Yorkshire by 1600, it points to the origin being from the earlier settlement.
When in Norway, Geoff discussed the name with a historian of the Viking period. A question he raised was why an occupation would become a surname when the more common Norse naming tradition is patronymic, usually composed of the father's name + son, e.g. Johansson. His reply was that Norse names may have been perceived as complicated during the early settlement and resulted in occupation names being used for ease of understanding which over time changed to current idiom.
Between 1612 and 1841 the surname is found almost entirely within a few villlages close to Catterick. By 1841, some family members had moved to Darlington. There are still a number of Stairmands in Darlington, where the family were well represented amongst businessmen and town councillors in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
From its root in Catterick, North Yorkshire, the members of the family moved to other areas of North Yorkshire, then Darlington, then to other parts of the UK and later to New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Canada.
In the 1841 censuses of England, Wales and Scotland the name appears in various forms approximately 35 times. By 1851, it appears about 60 times. In future censuses the frequency is as follows: 1861, approximately 55 incidences; 1871, approximately 53 incidences; 1881, approximately 87 incidences; 1891, approximately 70 incidences and 1901, approximately 110 incidences.
The greatest incidence of the name outside the UK is found in New Zealand.
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