Last name: Shields
This name is of English locational origin from north or south Shields - the former in Northumberland and the latter in Durham. The name in both cases derives from the Medieval English 'schele' itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'sceol' meaning a shed, hut or shelter. In some cases the name may be topographic for someone who lived by such a temporary shelter. The surname is first recorded in Scotland, (see below). The following quotation from Burns reads 'The swallow jinkin round my shiel'. One Roger ate Schelde appears in the 1332 'Subsidy Rolls of Surrey' and a Willelmus de Scheles in the 1379 'Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire'. In the 'modern' idiom the name has eight spelling variations, Shiel(ds), Shiel(l)s, Sheil(ds) and Sheal(s). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas of le Schele, which was dated 1274 who was a Juror on an inquisition made at Traqueyr, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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See also O'Shiel
Another variant spelling is Shiell, which is a common name in Berwickshire.