This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for someone employed to tend and watch over sheep, a shepherd. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "sceap", or "scip", sheep, with either "hierde", herdsman, from "heord", herd, flock, or "weard", guardian, watchman. Occasionally the modern surname may derive from an occupational name for a "shipward", as in the following recordings from Bristol; Thomas Shypward (1432) and John Shipward (1467). There are at least ten spellings of the surname, ranging from Shepard, Shephard, Shepherd, and Sheppard to Shepeard, Shepperd and Shippard. Among the recorded examples of the name in London is the christening of one Jone Shepherd on August 3rd 1585, at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney. One Samuell Shepherd was an early emigrant to the American colonies, leaving London on the "Defence" in July 1635, bound for New England. A very distinctive Coat of Arms granted to a Shepherd family of Devonshire depicts, a black shield, thereon three pascal lambs. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sepherd, which was dated 1279, in the "Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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