Recorded as Shepley and Shipley, this is an English surname. It is locational either from a place called Shepley in the former West Riding of Yorkshire, or from other places called Shipley in Derbyshire, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire, Sussex and Yorkshire. However spelt all the places names have a similar meaning which is the Olde English pre 7th century word "sceap or scip", meaning sheep, and "leah", a fenced enclosure or clearing in a wood or forest. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the surname. The surname may also have been a topographical name for a person who lived by a sheep pasture, from the same elements as above. Early examples of the surname recording taken from athentic rolls and charters include Robert de Sheplay of Yorkshire, in 1375, and Robert Shipleye of Warwickshire, in the year 1402. General Sir Charles Shipley was created Governor of Grenada in 1813 - 1815. A coat of arms granted to the family depicts on a silver field a gold chevron between three gold chessrooks. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de Sciplay. This was dated 1219, in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. 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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