It may be worthy of consideration whether the word be not a compound of the old Saxon Ceol, a ship, a boat, hence a keel; by the addition of "man," Ceolman, as ship-man, a boatman, a seaman like Ceol-wulf, Ceol-noth, Ceol-red, familiar names in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Whatever may have been the origin of the name, it appears in the following forms of orthography:
German: Kohlman, Kohlmann
So far as is known to the writer, the name Colman first appears in history A.D. 664, as that of a celebrated Scotch bishop of Lindis farne, or Holy Island, below the Tweed.
This bishop, in consequence of a violent controversy, retired and built a monastery on the Island of Hii Iona, on the west of Scotland, then another on this Island, of Inisbofinde, on the west of Ireland, and yet another on this island, now annexed to the Archbishopric of Tuam, in Ireland, where he died A.D. 676.
Another, a bishop in Ireland, baptized by the former, built also another monastery in the island; a third was murdered with the Bishop of Wurtsburg, in Germany, A.D. 689.
One of this name, from Scotland, in the eleventh century, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was slain in Austria, and became a patron saint of the country A.D. 1055.
These all have place in the Roman Calendar. The 18th of October is still noted as the memorable day of the saint last mentioned.
The name Kohlmann early appears in German history, and again in the twelfth century. It is at the present time a familiar and frequent name in Germany, Ireland, England, and the United States of America.
In heraldry there are three coats of arms in different branches of the Coleman family. An important street in the City of London has from time immemorial borne this name.
There were many emigrants of New England of the name of Coleman, Coultman or Colman in its early settlement, some of whom have left long lines of descendants in the Eastern States.
No evidence, however, has been adduced to prove that they were related to Thomas, of Wethersfield and Hadley, although they were doubtless, lineal descendants of the same Norman Ancestor.
The old traditional family proverb, narrated by the posterity of every British emigrant, about three brothers coming to this country" we believe to be wholly hypothetical as regards the Coleman family, and also in a majority of others.