Despite its apparently humble origins as a derivative of the Olde English pre 7th century "sagu", and the medieval "saghe", and meaning literally one who saws wood, the "sawyers" have often played a prominent part in British history. The earliest recordings are spread around England and show the necessity of the process of preparing "sawn timber", indeed without "sawyers" medieval life would have been impossible. These recordings include Humphrey le Sayhare, in the 1270 Somerset Rolls, Philip le Sagher in the Wakefield (Yorkshire) Rolls for 1324, and John le Saghiere in the Sussex Rolls of 1327, the latter spelling showing the French influence. In 1604 a Coat of Arms was granted to John Sawyer of Kettering , Northamptonshire, the arms being a Lozengy of gold and blue, on a red pale, three escallops - the sign of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the most famous Lawyers of the 17th Century was Sir Robert Sawyer, Attorney General in 1682, whilst one of the earliest settlers in Virginia, America was William Sawyer of James City, recorded on February 16th, 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas de Sagyere, which was dated 1248, in the "Records of the Abbey of Bec", Berkshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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