Lehman, Layman, Lemon Genealogy;


DNA Enhanced



It is widely known that the German language surname, "Lehman,"  came into being with the advent of the surname system. Often one's occupation became his surname. Ours is generally considered to have meant "vassal" or one who works the land. It was a term applied to one who had become bound to a section of real estate as a "fief" with no ownership. Moreover, unlike our own sharecroppers of a century ago, he could not quit and go to work for another landowner but was attached for life to a particular parcel of real property and its owner. He was pretty far back in  the socio-economic pecking order.

In German-speaking Switzerland, the name is reputed to have an entirely different derivation. Another frequent surname source was the location where one lived. Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 313 tells us that Lehman is a Mennonite family name originating in the Emmental, meaning the valley of the Emme River in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland. The name, according to Mennonite Encyclopedia, means “a person living on a gentle slope.” Near Langnau, there is a farm named Lehn, because of its topography. For centuries it has been, and still is, the home of a Lehman family. Evidence to support this theory of the origin of the Lehman surname in Switzerland has not been found. Likewise, the widespread notion that the Lehman surname in Switzerland originated with a Lehman Mennonite family at Langnau will not withstand scrutiny. See the Langnau page of this website.

The most common spellings of the surname in Switzerland were “Lehman,” “Leeman”and “Lehmann” but there were  also quite a few others. Rietstap's Armorial General lists15 blazons for the surname Lehmann, and you can take a look at  all 15 of them at http://coadb.com/index.php?search=lehman.

It may be said that the influx of German-speaking immigrants to Great Britain's American Colonies in general and through the port of Philadelphia in particular in the first half of the 18th Century resulted, either directly or indirectly, from two causes. Underlying the entire scenario was the effects of religious armed conflicts in Europe, primarily the Thirty Years War which devastated much of Europe and particularly Germany.. The second, and probably the most direct cause, was religious persecution in several European countries including specifically persecution of Anabaptists in Switzerland and particularly in Canton Bern.

Generally, at the time of immigration in the first half of the 18th Century, the German-speaking immigrants were referred to as "Palatinians." This is not entirely accurate, but even more inaccurate is their having been referred to since as “Pennsylvania Dutch.”  The misnomer came about as a result of many refugees from religious persecution in Switzerland and France having sought temporary refuge in the Palatinate. It is located primarily on the west side of the middle Rhine River and is known today as the Rhineland Pfalz or simply as the Pfalz. The Dutch in "Pennsylvania Dutch is a corruption of "deutsch" which in the German language means "German."

The forced emigration from Canton Bern probably reached its peak in the years between 1660-1675. Gratz, at p. 36, cites several sources for the fact that about 700 Anabaptists departed Canton Bern for the Palatinate and Alsace in 1671. Names of families that participated in this mass exodus, according to Gratz, included Lehman, Shenk, Bachman, Stauffer, Whitmer and others. Almost invariably, these names appear in Chester, later to be Lancaster Co., PA on tax lists in 1718. Simple arithmetic tells us that the 1717 immigrants would have been probably grandchildren of the 1671 refugees. Unfortunately, there exists a dearth of records of births, marriages or anything else of these families over this period of roughly half a century. Sometimes we don't even know where they were for more than 50 years..

In 1691 another wave of persecution commenced when it was decreed that all those who did not swear allegiance nor carry arms should no longer be tolerated. The exodus began anew and continued through the first two decades of the Eighteenth Century. Queen Ann of England took advantage of this opportunity to recruit settlers to the frontiers of the North American Colonies. Books and papers were dispersed in the Palatinate in 1708 and 1709, with Queen Ann's picture on the front. The letters on the title page were in gold so the book became known as The  Golden Book.  It’s purpose was to encourage the Palatines to come to England in order to be sent to settle in America

Three centuries later, enter Y-Chromosome DNA testing. As we do more and more 37, 67 and even 111-marker tests in the Lehman project, the confusion arising from the 61 original ten-marker tests diminishes and will, without doubt, eventually disappear. See further explanation on  the "About DNA Testing" page. The researcher is urged to click on that link at the heels of this page and read that page through before then proceeding to ascertain what knowledge DNA tests have brought forth about his or her individual family. It may be quite revealing.

The data which follows is extracted, in part, from Lehman, Layman Genealogy Handbook, sometimes hereinafter referred to as LLGH, which was published in 2006. It is a comprehensive summary, as of the date of its publication, of all known early Lehman families by all spellings. Included are known European origins with descendants enumerated whose life extended to at or about the advent of the 20th Century. 

When published in 2006, LLGH represented the very latest in Lehman, by any spelling, genealogy. It had the benefit, however, of only 70 DNA Y-Chromosome tests and 61 of those were the most rudimentary 10-marker tests. By early 2011 the Lehman project included more than 130 results; many of them of 37 or 67 markers. Descendants of most pre-1755 Lehman immigrants had been identified, had participated in DNA tests, and the family line assigned an identifying letter designation. Lehman, by any spelling, has indeed come a long way since the year 2000, when few of us knew who our immigrant ancestor was and most of us, including the compiler, erroneously believed that we were of German, as opposed to Swiss, ancestry.

Lehman, Layman Genealogy Handbook, 2011 Supplement, hereafter sometimes called The Supplement, was made available for distribution in early 2011. It is 85 pages including index and is in paperback. It brought the  information in LLGH to a state of the art status as of early 2011. 

Time marches on. By early 2014, a total of more than 160 test results had been recorded and analyzed. The additional 30-plus tests, combined with continuing historical research, has resulted in further advances in Lehman genealogy and that progress was updated as of early 2014. It is on three hole punched paper, printed on both sides and containing names of an additional 21 Lehman immigrants born before 1800   It is suitable to being placed in a 3 ring notebook. Almost surely some of those later immigrants are the immigrant ancestor of participants whose result has no match in the project so far. If your name is Lehman, by any one of a plethora of spellings, not all of which appear with the coat of arms adjoining this text, and your immigrant ancestor arrived no later than the early 1800s, these publications represent the "cutting edge of knowledge," including results of more than 160 DNA tests. 

Unfortunately, all copies of the original Lehman, Layman Genealogy Handbook have been sold or donated to libraries. The 2011 Supplement and the 2914 Update may both be obtained from the compiler for a total of $15.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to the  Lehman Project General Fund; monies are currently available. If you think that a test of your Lehman (by any spelling) line would be helpful but have not done so because of the cost, please contact the compiler. 

 The author is toying with the idea of compiling and publishing one last Lehman book. ( I am 83 and am bedeviled by macular degeneration.) It is projected to include all information contained in the aforementioned three publications as well as results of tests and historical research since 2014. Additionally, it would contain various and sundry information accumulated over the last 35 years but yet unpublished. Your reaction to this idea and whether you would e interested in purchasing such a bok at cost, is welcome. Your feedback will influence the decision.

In the interest of furthering and enhancing knowledge of the various Lehman, by all spellings, families, permission is freely given to disseminate, distribute or publish any factual information included herein. It is only expected that the courtesy be extended of crediting this web site and its compiler.


Information was compiled and edited by Earl R. Layman, elayman814@aol.com2525 Lakefront Ln., Knoxville, TN 37922. Revised 25 Feb 2016.


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