Last name: Spear

Recorded in the spellings of Spear, Sperr, Spere, Spary, Sperry, Spier, Spearman, and others, this is a surname of both Olde English pre 7th century and later Anglo-Saxon pre 9th Century origins. In its various forms it is recorded equally in both the United Kingdom and Germany. It is either a job descriptive surname for a professional hunter or of a soldier proficient with a spear. An alternative is a maker of spears, or sometimes as a descriptive nickname for a tall, thin person, one who resembled a spear! The plural spellings, such as Spears, Speares, etc, can indicate either a patronymic "son of Spere" or as a derivative of the French "espier"', meaning a watchman, one who probably carried a spear. The early recordings taken from the medieval charters and rolls include Henry Spere in Lancashire, England, in the year 1246, Conrad Sperr of Offenburg, Germany, in 1359, and Robertus Spyer in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire, England. Later recordings include Annes Spere, christened at St. Giles church, Cripplegate, London, on March 1st 1591, Hester Sperry, originally christened Sparry, who married Thomas Davis at St James church, Duke Street, London, on July 14th 1696, and Edward Spary, a witness at St Pancras Old Church, London, on December 24th 1786. The first recorded spelling of the family name in any form is shown to be that of Walter Speare, which was dated 1185, in the pipe rolls of the county of Somerset. This was during the reign of King Henry 11of England, known as 'The church builder', 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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