Although I have been researching the name for some time I have not come to any definite conclusion on the source for the name. One obvious meaning, given by some surname dictionaries is ‘a rug dealer’ but being a rare surname I would have thought that the name would be more common to have this meaning and from researches to date there appears to be only one or two sources at most.
In the ‘Penguin Dictionary of Surnames’, Rugman is described as an old English name and the definition is given as ‘dweller on the ridge’. If this is correct, I am surprised again that the name is not more common. I am not dismissing any of these meanings but I have yet to be convinced.
I am pursuing another line of investigation, which I hope will prove more enlightening later this year. See Rugman’s Row
The main concentrations for the name are in Gloucestershire (GLS) (1700 – present) Sussex (SSX) and London (LDN) including the Home Counties (1561 – present). For this reason I have constructed two trees, which may become branches of the same tree, for these two areas of the country. To date the Gloucestershire Tree has 1,162 individuals, including 506 Rugmans and on the Sussex/ Home Counties Tree there are 945 individuals, including 160 Rugmans. It would appear that the original source could be in S. E. England from these crude figures but they prospered more as farmers in Gloucestershire. This is purely a guess and would welcome any other theories. See DNA Surname Project page.
Note. SSX, GLS & LDN are the ‘Chapman codes’ for counties in the UK.