Recorded in many forms including Shear, Shears, Sheer, Sherr, Shire, Shires, Shiers, and Shyres, this is an English surname. There are two possible origins for this surname, which although widely through England is specifically associated with the county of Yorkshire. Firstly, it may be a baptismal name of endearment for a beautiful or radiant child, or one with golden hair. As such it derives from the Old English pre 7th century word "scir", which translates as 'bright or fair'. Alternatively, it could be locational and mean "at the shire", a division or territory, and describe a person who was resident at such a place. A good example is Gregory atte Shire, recorded in the Calender of Wills for the county of Yorkshire in the year 1397, whilst a later church recording is that of Agnes Shyres, the daughter of William Shyres, who was christened at St Peters Leeds, on August 21st 1579. The name spelling seems to have adopted the 'modern' forms in the 17th century, an example being Francis Shires, christened at Bolton Abbey, on December 10th 1689. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter le Schir. This was dated 1193, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Berkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England and known to history as "The Lionheart," 1189 - 1199. 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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