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The Name and its Variants and Origin


The most common versions of the name are HORSMAN  and HORSEMAN, and these occur across the United Kingdom and overseas.  However there is also a less common variant of HORSAMAN, which began in the East Riding of Yorkshire with one particular family.

A surname which I ‘wonder about’  but am not currently researching is ORSMAN, which seems to originate in Hertfordshire.  Does anyone know of a connection ?

When considering the spelling of the name, it is important to remember that in the early days it was the Clergy who wrote family details in Parish Registers. Most people were illiterate, so were unable to know what had been written.  Spelling differences would be compounded by local dialect, hard of hearing vicars, non local clergy and parishioners with colds.  

In my own family,  the earliest entry in a parish register had our name spelt with an ‘e’,  but we had ‘mislaid’ this some 30 years later.

Anyone searching on Ancestry or Find My Past should note that the surname is often indexed as Hars(e)man or Hers(e)man.  I’ve submitted corrections where I’ve found errors.  The best way of searching to make sure you pick up all potential occurrences is to use  h*rs*m*n


English (Yorkshire): occupational name for a stable worker, from the Old English hors 'horse' + mann 'man'.The Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames has a different definition: Occup. or official, 'the horseman' either a mounted soldier or breeder of horses.

An alternative theory relating to the history of the name is provided by the historian, Reginald Horsman, who having researched early parish registers, suggests that the name may have derived from Ouseman, (from families living near the River Ouse in Yorkshire); and that it gradually developed into Horsman or Horseman.