This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is the patronymic (son of) form of 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 variant spellings of the surname, ranging from Shepherd, Shephard and Sheppard to Shepeard, Shepperd and Shippard. One Elizabeth Shepherdson married John Grantham on April 9th 1702 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sepherd, which was dated 1279, The Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward I, 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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