Hillman – or even Hilman, Hillmann, Hilmann, Illman, Ilman, Hilghman, Ylman – and a host of other possible variants!
A simple name, readily attributable to a geographical origin? – “the man who lived on, in, under or near the hill”.
The alternative relates to an occupation – Hill’s Man? – that is – “the servant or serf who belongs to or works for a man named Hill”.
Or is it really so simple?
Where did we come from – we who carry this family name, now spread widely – albeit thinly – around the world? The family name is found from Finland through Scandinavia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain. It has also come from some East European countries, Poland, Russia, Rumania, and Lithuania. It now exists secondarily through emigration in north and south American countries, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa among others. I even found a slave family bearing the name on the South Atlantic Island of St Helena – but more of that later!
The attempt has been made here to investigate and document this for the interest of all who have a stake in the name or are simply just interested. The information has been organised to some extent geographically, after a general investigation of possible origins for the family name. It has been gleaned from a broad variety of sources, some more reliable than others. This has relied upon volunteers for the most part—people who do respond to requests for information, who share their hard-won data, and who spend countless hours transcribing information so that we can all have easy and free access to it wherever we may live. A big thank you to you all!
No one source provides a fully comprehensive analysis or extraction of the available data, and they vary considerably as to coverage of time periods. No analysis therefore can be fully scientific or significant, but they together give some idea of the origins of this family name, where it came from, and where it is now.
“It will be noted that the Hillmans are characterised for their earnestness and integrity. They have exhibited a high degree of intelligence by the professional positions attained. In the religious work of this country they have been prominent, and in the medical profession have furnished many graduates. Lawyers, bankers and commercial men of recognised ability, are recorded among the Hillmans mentioned in these pages.”
Any knowledge I have collated on the family name Hillman depends upon the knowledge and goodwill of many other people, my own family records, Websites, and correspondents, to all of whom I am very grateful for their time and interest. I apologise for any mis-interpretations or mis-associations, but in most cases we can no longer check with those from the past who knew how and where the name originated, or the movements it has undergone.
Numerous Jewish correspondents, including Craig Hillman, Harold Hillman, Jon Hillman, Caroline Josephs, Sidney Lightman, Yeshaya Metal, Esther Peled, Ann Rabinowitz, Bruce Reisch, Harold Rhode, and Lee Schlesinger.
Numerous other Hillman correspondents, not least Sheila Arestad, Alison Ballentyne, Ralph Childers, Bill Harrison, Marc Hillman, Mike Hillman, Perttu Hillman, Sue Mackay, Mrs H. Mann, Paul Marchant, Derek Monroe, John Sweet, Jane Tripodi, Marion Walter, Hilary Yorke, and many others.
Greatest acknowledgement is due to all those countless transcribers who have contributed so much to various libraries and websites in hours of painstaking interpretation from ancient documents entered into computers for all of us to benefit from. I can only hope a few may receive some enjoyment and satisfaction from exploring this set of information and the interpretations attempted here for one family name.
I must also acknowledge the support – not always willingly given – by my own Hillman family, as I have spent countless hours acquiring data and ignoring them, or conducting research trips into little-known ancestral areas, now changed beyond all recognition by the Hillman ancestors and others who lived there. Jess Hillman provided the site logo and all the family have always been supportive.
Other Hillman Families
The name Hillman is not uncommon in the British Isles, but it is not one of the commonest, nor is it restricted to the British Isles. I am in the process of collating the information I have accumulated on the name for the benefit of anyone interested and look forward to hearing from others seeking their own origins, with information to add, or corrections to make. I am registered with the Guild of One Name Studies (#3868). Contact me at hillman at one-name.org
 Hillman, H.W. 1905. Ancestral Chronological Record of the Hillman Family, 1550-1905. Walsh Press, Scotia, NY.