The origin of the name Goldman is believed to have derived from one of two sources. The first, while the name Goldman is found most prominently as a surname among those of Jewish heritage, it is believed the name may be Anglo-Saxon in origins, falling into the category of names which were occupational in nature. The surname Goldman or any variation of its spelling may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon given names Golda, the masculine form, or Golde, the feminine form, which both mean “gold”. In this context, the name was thought to be descriptive in nature, applied to a person with gold hair or to someone who was treasured.
The second source, suggest the surname Goldman or any variation of its spelling, while also deriving its origins from the given names Golda or Golde, was due to the person's occupation. It would have been used in context with such persons as jewelers, goldsmiths, bankers, or financiers.
While the name Goldman and the variations in its spelling are considered to be Anglo-Saxon in origin, the name became and is still quite prevalent within the Jewish community. This may be attributed to the fact that during the middle ages, the occupation of many Jewish immigrants in Europe was that of an early form of banker or financier, some were even called into service as the Court Factor. The Court Factor was a position of great importance at court as the responsible for and the care of the finances of the nobility and royals of Europe were placed in their hands. Due to strict rules imposed by the church regarding the handling of money, Christians were not allowed to be bankers; however, these rules did not apply to those who were Jewish. Many of those who acted as Court Factors, were in turn granted titles, giving them noble status.
It should also be noted that the surname Goldman within the Jewish community may be metronymic in origin rather than occupational, meaning the name is derivative of an individual's mother or other female relative.
Variations in the name's spelling exists, as with many names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in the spelling of names during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in Britain after the Norman conquest and the fact that many scribes spelled names phonetically. The variations in the spelling of the name include Gold, Goldman, Golman, Gouldman, and Gulden in addition to the German spelling Goldmann.
The first immigrants to America on record bearing the name Goldman are Conrad Goldman who arrived in New York in 1710 and John Goldman who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1743. During the migration of immigrants to the new world, the majority of the Goldmans who arrived, landed in the mid-Atlantic states; however, by the 1850s, they had made their way to the west coast, settling in San Francisco, California.
The surname Goldman has also been well represented in modern culture in such diverse areas as business, finance, academics, politics, and the arts.
Sir Samuel Goldman was an international banker and held the title of Second Permanent Secretary at Her Majesty's Treasury under Queen Elizabeth II. He was also knighted him making him Knight Commander of the Order of Bath (KCB).
Marcus Goldman was born in Germany and immigrated to America in 1848. He rose from being a shop merchant to founder of Goldman Sachs, which today is one of the largest and most influential financial and investment banking firms in the world.
John M. Goldman was a medical research scientist who conducted ground breaking research into treatments for leukemia. He was primary in the development of the drug Imatinib and bone marrow transplants as a clinical method of treating leukemia.
Richard N. and Rhonda H. Goldman were philanthropist who founded the Goldman Environmental Prize. The prize was established in 1990 and every year since, the the prize has been awarded to six recipients, one from each of the world's six different geographic regions; Asia, Africa, the Island Nations, North, South, and Central America. Each winner receives $175,000.00 US to use as they see fit.
James Goldman, a screenwriter and playwright, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay The Lion in Winter, a depiction of the personal life and conflicts between Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, his wife.
Historical personages associated with the surname of Goldman:
European Royalty throughout most of the late medieval to present time. Queen Elizabeth II specifically.
House of Lords, Parliament, English Honor System, Order of the Bath.
Places associated with the surname of Goldman:
Asia, Africa, The Americas, England, German, Holland, Spanish Hapsburg Holland, Spain, Wales, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Hollywood.