This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "spearwa", Middle English "sparewe", a sparrow. The surname was originally given to a homely or chirpy person, and is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress and occupation.The surname is first recorded in the mid 12th Century (see below) and can also be found as Sparrowe and Sparow. Ralph Sparewe is noted in the 1182 Pipe Rolls of Norfolk and Ibboto Sparow is listed in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire (1325). Judith Sparrow is recorded as living in the Barbadoes in 1680; she was one of the earliest settlers in the New World. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is ermine with a red unicorn's head erased between three red roses, barbed and seeded proper, a red chief indented, the Crest being a silver unicorn's head erased semee of red cinquefoils. The Motto, "Spero", translates as, "I hope". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Sperewe, which was dated 1160, in the "Early London Personal Names", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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