Name Origin, Variants and Frequency

Name Origin

As is normally the way, I have found no proof to support the family legend, that the name is of French origin. The only link I have is that a Joseph Pullum (recorded as Pullam in the marriage record) married a Huguenot, Mary Free (previously called Marie Le Franc).Marriage-Pullum_Free
So far, the evidence suggests that the UK Pullums originated from the Shoreditch area. This could mean it is a variant of the locative surnames Fulham/Fullum.
The other variants considered are also locative, Pulham in Norfolk and Dorset, and Pelham in Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, and Hampshire, so the distance from Shoreditch suggests that they are not connected.


The earliest Pullum, connected to any family,  I have found so far is Richard Pullum who was born in Shoreditch in 1635. I have found that these ‘early’ Pullums may have been recorded as Pulham or Pullam. Although I recognise that spelling varied often in those days, one theory I am considering is that, one family of Pulhams/Pullams that moved to Shoreditch and then altered their name to Pullum.
July 2016, I found a handful of Pullums in Norfolk in the 17th & 18th century
and January 2017 have found a group in Somerset in the 16th and 17th century and also a few in Gloucestershire, Dorset and Kent.
As I have not found any in these areas later on, the families probably changed the spelling of their names to Pullam, Pullom, Pulham or similar. Alternatively, they may have moved or emigrated.
I plan to look at these separately to see if there are any clues.

I have found, but not yet analysed,  a significant number of Pullums in the USA in the 1880s. The number of Pullums in the US is greater than in the UK. Initially I thought that the UK Pullums emigrated rather than vice versa. But US records include Pullums born in the US as early 1870, of various races (e.g.native american Sioux, black and a slave owner).


I have found two immigration records for Virginia U.S. A.  For Edward Pullum  and Edmund Early immigrantsPullum in 1636. The sponsor was the same for both, William Clark.  I have tried to follow up this family, but the various sources (mainly Early Virginia Families Along the James River: Their Deep Roots and Tangled Branches. Vol. I by Louise Pledge Heath Foley) suggest that these Pullums became Pulliam, but I have numerous individuals spelling their name Pullum later and cannot tell yet if they are related and/or descendants or not.
Other sources state the opposite situation, i.e. That Edward/Edmund Pullum was the descendant(s) of a family in gloucestershire named Pulliam. I have not been able to prove this either.


I had found no Pullums in countries other than the UK & USA until the 20th century, so clearly emigrants. One exception is Germany, where I have discovered some records from the 17th/18th century. The records I have seen are indexes only and there are other records that are similar with a variety of alternative spellings. The number of individuals, their dates of birth and names would suggest that they were a single family (2 generations).

Latin Roots?

Pullum is Latin for:
as in Pollo, the Spanish & Italian for chicken
Pullet, a young hen
and a chicken dish on the wall of a Pompei (thanks to distant cousin Keith)
Ridden by Jesus on Palm Sunday, from a Latin bible (thanks again to Keith)

How this related to the name is not clear but perhaps an occupational name.
e.g.chicken farmer; keeper of horses or donkeys.
Or a nickname e.g. a variation on junior (hopefully not chicken as in coward)

For a bit of fun, I have also made a list of non-people Pullums


Young Edith Louise Brown nee Pullum

I initially registered the variant Pullen with The Guild of One-name Studies, but have discovered that this is probably not a variant. However Pullum may be a variant of Pulham.The origins for these names seem to be different, Pullum being in Middlesex and Surrey (some places are the same but boundaries moved) and Pulham in Dorset & Norfolk. Other possible variants are Pullam and Pullom.


My grandmother was particular about the spelling of her name and said that her father taught the children a rhyme about it “Two Ls, two Us, a P and an M”.


The number of Pullums on the UK 1881 Census varies between sources (Family Search and Find my Past have 57 & UK Census on-line and Ancestry have 64). Combining the results gives a total of 74 individuals. 9 were excluded following further research. Additionally, according to my family tree there were an additional 20 known to be alive in 1881, but 4 were women who were now married and so no longer Pullums and I had been unable to trace 15 on the 1881 census (maybe not in the UK at the time of the census) but one had been mis-transcribed and so was added to the total.
Hence the frequency = 0.00025% or 1 in 393,547.


The number of births found (Free BMD) for 1837 – 1915 was 291. However two duplicates have been found and there may be other errors which I have not yet found (data collection is still not fully complete)


According to the Office of National Statistics database, in England, Wales and the Isle of Mann in September 2002 there were 179 Pullums.


Giving a frequency = 0.00033% or 1 in 304,434.
Although not examined yet in detail, There are 492 Pullums on the 1880 United States Federal Census Which would be a frequency = 0.00098% or 1 in 102,209.


 (Last updated 10.03.18)

1 thought on “Name Origin, Variants and Frequency

  1. A.H

    I love your article. You actually mentioned a cousin of mine, Darling Ulysses Pullum, from Georgia.



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