The Chapman Book

photo-1431898542497-133ad897e05f So, my little child, I am trying to decide how to continue the story. Far away from my parents, your grandparents, and their letters that crossed the Indian Ocean in the 1970’s during Emergency Rule in India, is the story of your father and his Anglo-Saxon family surname: Chapman.

Your surname is Chapman, after your father, my husband and his father before him. How your Indian mother met your English father I will tell you at a later stage, but for now, let me tell you about the historical records that bear the roots of your ancient name.

There is a Chapman motto I found in the Chapman book: Virtue thrives under oppression.

King William I , the Norman who conquered England in 1066, ordered a grand-scale survey of England and Wales to determine the amount of tax due, which was completed in 1086, and named the ‘Domesday’ book, so called because the decisions it held, like the Day of Judgement, were final. Written in Latin, all the King’s subjects, rich and poor had to be identified with a surname. Now, the name Chapman derives from the old German ‘choufman’ indicating someone who traveled the countryside as a merchant trader. We know that the Chapmans lived in England before the Normans, because their name is from Old German and they feature in the Domesday Book. In your veins is the Anglo-Saxon blood that came to Britain in the fifth century, originally from Denmark and Germany.

Your Granddad Chapman likes to recount the establishment of the Anglo-Saxons before the Normans invaded, and I like to recount the Indians before the British invaded.


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