This is an English surname. Recorded in various spellings including Shield, Sheild, and the patronymics Sheilds and Shields this interesting name has a number of possible origins. Firstly, it may be an Anglo-Saxon metonymic occupational name for an armourer, a maker of shields, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'scild', meaning shield, as in the recording of Geoffrey le Seldmakere of the county of Essex in 1285. Secondly, it may be of locational in origin, from the places called North and South Shields in the counties of Northumberland and County Durham. Here the derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century word 'sceol', meaning a temporary building, such as a shepherd's summer hut or shelter. Finally in some instances the modern surname may be topographical in origin, derived from the Old English 'scieldu', meaning shallow and as such denoting residence near a ford, this being usually the shallow part of a river. The plural form if not patronymic can be genitive to mean somebody who is 'of Shield's', as in the towns or 'of the hut or shallows', as appropriate. The first recorded holder of the family name is believed to be Robert Scild. He appears in the Yorkshire Pipe Rolls for the year 1206, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199-1216. 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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