Recorded in several forms including Sharples and Sharpless, this is a famous English surname. It is locational and originates from a place now called Sharples Hall, near the town of Bolton, and first recorded in the ancient Pipe Rolls of the county as "Scharples" in the year 1240. The place name, and hence the later surname, derives from a fused spelling of the pre 7th century Olde English words "scearp" meaning steep and "laes", a meadow. Another possible meaning is sheep meadow from the similar "sceap-laes". The first known recording in any spelling is probably that of John de Scharples in the Assize Court rolls of the county of Lancashire in 1246, whilst Adam de Sharples is recorded in the Subsidy Tax rolls also of Lancashire in 1332. A coat of arms was granted to the family known as Sharples of Sharples in the year 1567. This has the blazon of a black shield charged with three silver crescents. This blazon suggests that the family were descendants of the famous Crusaders of the 12th century, in their various bids to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. Locational surnames were often the status name given to the local lord of the manor and his descendants, as may well be the case here. In addition they were given to former inhabitants of a place, who moved somewhere else. The easiest way to identify such strangers being to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, often lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings.
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