This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is of locational derivation either from a place called Shepley in Yorkshire, or from places called Shipley in Derbyshire, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire, Sussex and Yorkshire. The place in Derbyshire is found as "Scipelie" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and Shipley in Yorkshire appears as "Scipeleia", also in the Domesday Book. These placenames are all composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "sceap, scip", sheep, and "leah", wood, clearing.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. However, Shipley may also have been a topographical name for a "dweller by the sheep pasture", from the same elements as above. Early examples include Robert de Sheplay (Yorkshire, 1375), and Robert Shipleye (Warwickshire, 1402). Sir Charles Shipley (1755 - 1815), after a distinguished army career, was created General in 1771, a knight in 1808, and Governor of Grenada 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, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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