This unusual surname is well recorded in the spellings of Shambrook and Shambrooke, and very occasionally as Shambroke and Shambrocke. It is definately English and locational, but the place of origin and the precise meaning are certainly open to conjecture. As no such village name as 'Shambrook' or similar is to be found in any of the published gazetteers, nor does the name appear in the Medieval Village Listings, it has to be assumed that it derives from one of the five thousand or so 'lost' sites which have given rise to surnames. In fact it is only the survival of the surname which gives any indication that these places ever existed. The suffix 'brook' is Anglo-Saxon and clearly describes a small river, however the prefix 'Sham' is a puzzle. No such word exists in the ancient records, so it is a dialectal of something else. This may have been 'scene', a pre 7th century word meaning 'bright' and probably pronounced as 'shen', or it may have been 'snar' meaning 'wooded'. Early examples of the surname recording include Elizabeth Shambrook, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on December 4th 1587, William Shambroke, christened at St Michaels Cornhill, London, on October 25th 1579, and Willyam Shamerook (!), the son of John Shambrook, so much for 17th century spelling, christened at St Bololphs without Aldgate, London, on December 11th 1608. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elyzabethe Shambrooke, which was dated September 4th 1569, christened at St Stephans, Coleman Street, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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