This name is an ancient English and sometimes Scottish surname. Recorded in many forms as shown below, it was an important and early occupational surname for a sheep farmer or someone employed to tend and watch over sheep. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "sceap", with a fused form of either "hierde", meaning a herdsman, or "weard", a guardian or watchman. Occasionally the modern surname may derive from an occupational name for a "shipward". This certainly applies in the following recordings of Thomas Shypward in 1432, and John Shipward in 1467, both being from the port of Bristol. There are at least ten spellings of the surname. These include Shepherd, Shephard and Sheppard, Shepeard, Shepperd and Shippard. Amongst the early recordings of the name in the surviving church registers of the city of London are the christening of Jone Shepperd on August 3rd 1585, at St. Mary's Whitechapel, whilst Samuell Shepherd was an early emigrant to the American colony of Virginia, leaving London on the ship "Defence" in July 1635. A very distinctive coat of arms granted to the Shepherd family of Devonshire depicts, a black shield, charged with three pascal lambs. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sepherd. This was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rollsof Oxforshire", during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. 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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