This interesting and most unusual surname has a number of possible origins. Firstly, the name may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, as a topographical surname for a dweller at the sign of the sheaf, a bundle of stalks and ears of grain, from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "sceaf", a sheaf. However, Sheaf may also have been a topographical name for someone who lived by a boundary of some sort, from the Olde English "sceath, scaeth", a boundary; or again a dweller by the river Sheaf, which forms the boundary between Derbyshire and Yorkshire, with the same derivation. Finally, the surname may have originated from the Olde English personal name "Sceafa", of unknown etymology. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the christening of Annys Sheff on March 10th 1553, in London; the christening of Phillip Sheffe on June 28th 1590, at Oswaldkirk in Yorkshire; and the marriage of Elizabeth Sheaf and Roderick Griffith at St. James', Duke's Place, London on August 22nd 1689. Sir Roger Sheaffe (1763 - 1851) was born in Boston, New York, but served with the British in Holland, the Baltic and Canada, and was appointed General in 1838. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Schage, which was dated 1191, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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