Recorded as Sheal, Sheals, Shiel, Shiell, Sheel, Sheele, Sheeles, Sheeld, Shield, and others, this an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is locational from the places in England known as North and South Shields. The former is in the county of Northumberland and the latter in the county of Durham. The name in both cases derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word "sceol" meaning a temporary shelter. The surname is ancient, one of the earliest on record and is first recorded in Scotland. The following quotation from the famous Robbie Burns reads 'The swallow jinkin round my shiel', suggests a cottage or hut.Examples of recordings taken from early charters and registers includes Roger ate Schelde in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of the county of Surrey in 1279, and Willelmus de Scheles in the Poll Tax register of Yorkshire in 1379. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas le Schele. This was dated 1274 when he was a juror on an inquisition at Traqueyr, Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 111rd of that country, 1249 - 1286. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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