Select Coleman Miscellany

Here are some Coleman stories and accounts over the years:

Coleman and Collier Surname Distribution

The surnames Coleman and Collier describe the same occupations in England, both being either a burner of charcoal or a gatherer of coal.  The table below shows their name distribution on the basis of the 1891 census.

Numbers (000's)
There are more Colemans than Colliers.  And Coleman appears more in the southeast, Collier more in the northwest.

Colemans Hatch

Colemans Hatch lies on the north edge of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.  Today it consists of a small collection of houses and a church built in the early 1900's.  It had been for many centuries the entrance point to the forest which had been from the 1200's a hunting park for the King. 

The name Colemans Hatch appears to have derived from a Coleman family of charcoal makers together with a gate (or "hatch") which they used to access the forest to make their charcoal.   The family was recorded in Hartfield parish from the late 1200's.  The village of Hartfield nearby had over the years grown from its agricultural roots to, with its furnace and forge, a center for iron and timber.

Colmans of Colman's Mustard

On April 3, 1814 Jeremiah Colman leased the Stoke Holy Cross mill (on the river Tas near Norwich) as a growing concern and paid Edward Ames 51 for his stock of mustard.  The following notice then appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle:

"Jeremiah Colman, having taken the stock and trade lately carried on by Mr. Edward Ames, respectfully informs his customers and the public in general that he will continue the manufacturing of mustard and he begs leave to assure those who may be pleased to favor him with their orders that they shall be supplied in such a manner as cannot fail to secure their approbation."

Sainsbury In 1823 Jeremiah took his adopted nephew James into partnership in a firm now called J. & J. Colman.  The partnership prospered and in 1836 a London branch was established.  Following the deaths of Jeremiah in 1851 and father James in 1854, the young son Jeremiah James Colman found himself the head of a successful company that was employing over 200 people. 

He developed the distinctive yellow packaging and bull's head logo for the mustard and was also responsible for the family's pioneering achievements in socail welfare.  A school was opened for the employees' children in 1857 and a nurse was recruited to help with sick members of staff.

Colemans in England and America

The American Genealogical Research Institute in their booklet The Coleman Family speculated as follows about the number of Colemans in America:

"In English history the Coleman family has been primarily noted among such common people as yeomen, tradesmen, and farmers.  Only a handful entered the highest class of the gentry.  Noble titles in the family did not occur at any time in English history. 

The reason why there were so many Coleman immigrants is that most of them were poor, in search of prospects in America."   .

Ann Coleman, A Vagabond Quaker in New Hampshire

In 1662 three young Quaker women from England came to Dover, New Hampshire.  True to their faith, they preached against professional ministers, restrictions on individual liberty, and the established customs of the church-ruled establishment.

Their punishment was harsh:

"Take these vagabond Quakers - Ann Coleman, Mary Tompkins, and Alice Ambrose - and make them fast to the cart's tail and, driving the cart through your several towns, to whip their naked backs (not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of them) in each town; and so to convey them from constable to constable until they are out of this jurisdiction."

Eventually the Quaker women returned to Dover and established a Meeting House.  In time one third of Dover's citizens became Quakers.

Two Coleman Daughters Who Took Their Own Lives

The industrialist Robert Coleman had two daughters, Anne Caroline and Sarah, who would both meet tragic ends.

Anne Caroline began dating future US President James Buchanan in 1818 when he was a lawyer in Lancaster county.  They soon became engaged, much to Robert Coleman's displeasure.  Coleman was apparently unhappy with Buchanan's reputation.  Rumors abounded that Buchanan was seeing other women and was only marrying Anne for her money.  After one incident of him visiting a friend's wife, Anne broke off the engagement and died soon afterwards, probably from an overdose of laudanum.  It turned out that Buchanan was so devastated by the broken engagement and suicide and he vowed never to marry.  He became the only bachelor President in the history of the United States.

Another daughter Sarah also committed suicide.  She loved a William Muhlenberg who was co-rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster.  Again Robert Coleman disapproved of the match and would not agree to a marriage.  Sarah fled to Philadelphia and killed herself there.

The Colemans in Honduras

William and Cynthia Coleman were Confederate refugees who fled to Honduras in 1867.  Their son later wrote:

"My father and a group of friends went to Honduras after the Civil War, in which he fought all four years in the First Georgia Cavalry.  I have his sword.  After Sherman's march through Georgia, when he burned and destroyed everything in our part of the state, things were very bad and this group of young soldiers and their families decided to go to Honduras.

In those days, the trip across the Gulf had to be made by schooner.  A storm wrecked the boat that Father was on, but he and his wife and two little children (your father and Jack) made their way to shore north of Puerto Cortez, saving only Father's rifle and violin.  Several others in the party were saved, but they did not like the foreign country and went back to Georgia.

After many ups and downs, our family settled in a village which is now San Pedro Sula and, by constant hard work and determination, Father made a fortune."

The Colemans in fact settled in a Confederate colony called Medina, now part of the city of San Pedro Sula.  Branches of the family were also in surrounding towns such as Olancho.  Most of the Coleman descendants in Spanish Honduras owe their lineage to this family.

Mary Coleman from Coleman Country

Coleman Country today describes the area of south Sligo, north Roscommon, and NE Mayo where the legendary Irish fiddler Michael Coleman was born and grew up.  It was also the home, a generation earlier, of a relatve of his, Mary Coleman.

Mary Coleman was born just after the famine.   It was her people that owned Lisbaleely in Gurteen for three hundred years.  She was was not versed in English.  When she had married her hiusband John McDermott in 1885 at the time of the land wars, she could only put her mark upon the marriage certificate.  However, with her husband on the run, she had driven her cart all night to Lord DeFreyne's home to stop her family being evicted.  Eventually she took title to the land in 1911.

When she talked about her family history, she would describe the famine as a terrible struggle.  All her education was received at a hedge school.  Her grandson remembered her great wisdom and her routine as she returned to the old house to light a fire.  She would sit by the fire and smoke a pipe, often reciting the rosary in Irish.  When he would fetch her for meals, she would talk of meeting people who were long dead.

She was buried inside the gate of the old graveyard in Gurteen, fifteen feet from the wall in the second row of graves.  She is there in the arms of her son John and with her sister Agnes.     

Tom Coleman of Smithfield, NSW

Thomas Coleman, a convict descendant, died in Smithfield NSW on December 6, 1955 at the ripe old age of ninety five.

"The son of a wheelwright, he for some years followed the calling of his father, but later the call of the country life appealed to him and he spent many years in various parts of Australia assisting in the erection of telephone services, which he often referred to as a healthy life in the rough and rugged outback.  He continued this calling following his marriage in Parramatta seventy three years ago to Miss Mercy Marks, the daughter of a Badgery Creek dairyman.

On returning to Smithfield the deceased, along with his wife, took up residence in Justin Street, and later in Oxford Street, where they cared for their seven children - four girls and three boys.  After the death of his wife 23 years ago he had in turn lived with his daughter at Canberra, his son at Taree, and then, for the past 13 years, with his daughter at Smithfield.  There are 26 surviving grandchildren and 56 great grandchildren.  

It was said of Tom Coleman, as he was always known, that his whole life had been worthwhile.  Age did not deter him, he had been an inspiration to others many years his junior and when the news of his death became known, there was a feeling amongst the residents that they were poorer for his passing."

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