Names of Interest

Family Surname History – Newman

Unofficial Guide to How to Find Your Family History on the No.1 Genealogy WebsiteThe next surname I am writing about in my family surname history is Newman.  I am going through the surnames in my tree by generation to find out the origins of the surnames.  It is a really interesting topic – understanding family surname history – as it can assist you with where your ancestors originated from.


Family Surname History – Newman

Newman is a very old surname with origins existing prior to the 7th Century.1  It can be found in many places with various spelling variants such as Newman in England and Neumann, Neuemann, Neumann, Nyemann in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.1


Distribution of Newman

Newman Surname Distribution Worldwide - Image courtesy of Forebears
Newman Surname Distribution Worldwidea

Forebears state the surname Newman as the 2,384th most common surname worldwide in 2014 with 230,861 people having this name.2  The top ten countries with this spelling are the United States, England, Australia, Canada, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, New Zealand and Jamaica.2


In England, where my Newman family originates from, it is the 137th most common name with 33,911 people with this surname.2 In Australia, where my Newman family migrated, there are 13,618 people with this surname making it the 181st most common.2


Newman Surname Distribution UK - Image courtesy of Forebears
Newman Surname Distribution UKb

Newman is most commonly found in the southern parts of England, particularly, Essex, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire.2  Throughout my research, I have found the Newman family surname history to be mainly in Middlesex where my  great-great-grandfather, Charles Newman was born.  However, his father, Henry, was from Coventry in Warwickshire.  To date, I have not got proof of Henry’s parents so am unable to say where they had come from in earlier times.





Meaning of the Surname Newman

The surname Newman has both Germanic and Anglo-Saxon origins, originally starting out as a nickname for a person new to an area.1

Famous Newman’s

Paul Newman, American Actor
Paul Newman, American Actorc

Here are some famous Newman’s:

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) – A controversial figure in the 1800’s – first an Anglican priest who converted to become a Catholic priest then a cardinal.3

Paul Newman (1925-2008) – American Actor, Philantropist – he created Newman’s Own food company with all profits donated to charity.4

Randy Newman (b.1943) – American singer, songwriter, and painist.5





Do you have the surname Newman in your family history?  Do you know where your family name originated from?  

1. Surname Database, ‘Last Name: Newman’,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
2. Forebears, ‘Newman Surname Meaning & Statistics’,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
3., ‘Blessed John Henry Newman’,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
4., ‘Paul Newman’,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
5., ‘Randy Newman’,, Accessed 29 March 2018.


Image Credits
a. Newman Surname Distribution Worldwide,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
b. Newman Surname Distribution UK,, Accessed 29 March 2018.
c. Paul Newman,, Accessed 29 March 2018.

11 thoughts on “Family Surname History – Newman

  1. This is a very interesting article about the Newman name. When I get some time, I would like to research my family history and where our name came from. I want to research beyond my parents and grandparents to the great-grandparents and beyond, I think it would be so informative. Love reading your posts, Thank you!

    1. Hi Tammy
      Genealogy is such a rewarding, if sometimes frustrating, hobby. It is so much fun to find out the origins of our surnames as they can sometimes provide vital clues as to who they were. When you do start your genealogy journey please come and tell me some of your finds. Also, if you need any help please ask and I’ll do my best to offer some guidance.

  2. Hi Megan,

    Having traced my own family history it does surprise me how old these surnames are. I have really enjoyed discovering their origins as well as their meanings too.

    Take for example my surname, Couch. My father always told me that it is Cornish for the colour red, and yep after checking online he was right.

    I like checking things like this and verifying te stories that I have been told.

    1. Hi Owain
      I, too, love to ensure that the stories I am told are correct. It can be disheartening to discover a story you’ve always believed wasn’t true when you research to find the truth! Although that is the thrill of genealogy I suppose.

  3. I just love family history and how surnames came about. It totally makes sense that Newman comes from “new man” to an area. My grandmother traced back our family history on my fathers side for many generations and it is incredible to see the family tree. She traced our lineage back to England and then all the way to France in the early 1800’s. Thanks for sharing this interesting information on the Newman surname.

    1. Hi Lynne

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post.  It does make sense that Newman means “new man” but it makes me wonder why it’s not more popular especially given the nomadic movements of many people!  Great work from your grandmother to go so far back!



    1. Hello

      I have not come across any Newman’s related to us in New Zealand. It is interesting when a particularly family name is famous in one area and not another.


  4. My Mothers maiden name is Newman there were 12 Children in her family and many cousins
    What was strange is the older cousin s and my Mom would say that their surname was really
    Breedlove before Newman

    1. This is interesting. My grandfather always said the same thing about the Breedlove to Newman change. I was just using Google search to see if there was an explanation for this on the internet and came across your comment.

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