This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name deriving chiefly from the city of Sheffield in Yorkshire, which was recorded as "Scafeld" in the Domesday Book of 1086. This city derives its name from the river Sheaf, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "sceath", boundary, plus "feld", a field or open country. The surname may also have derived from any of the minor places of the name in Sussex ("Sifelle" in the Domesday Book), composed of the Olde English elements "sceap, scip", sheep, plus "feld"; and in Berkshire ("Sewelle", in the Domesday Book), from the Olde English elements "sceo", shelter, and "feld". The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire record a Johannes de Schefell in 1379. Interesting namebearers include Sir Robert Sheffield (died 1518), speaker of the House of Commons, 1510 and 1512; Sir Edmund Sheffield (1564 - 1546), first Baron Sheffield and Earl of Mulgrave, who was President of the North and Lord-Lieutenant of Yorkshire; and John Sheffield (1648 - 1721), first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, privy councillor, and Lord Chamberlain, 1685 and Lord Justice in 1714, who was buried in Westminster Abbey. His Coat of Arms depicts a chevron between three red garbs, with a silver and blue border gabony, and the Motto, "Deo adjuvante labor proficit". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes de (of) Schefeld, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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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