This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places called Shirley in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Surrey and the West Midlands. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "scir", meaning bright, plus "leah", wood, clearing. Shirley in Derbyshire and Hampshire were recorded as "Sirelei" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and Shirley in Surrey was recorded as "Shyrley" in the Feet of Fines of 1461. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Ralph de Shirleye (1318 - 1319), recorded in the Feet of Fines of Warwickshire, and William Shirley (1442 - 1443), recorded in the Feet of Fines of Surrey. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of William Sherley and Marie Newton on November 11th 1561, at St. Mary le Bow, London, and the marriage of Jane Shirley and John Drewe on June 3rd 1635, in Caterham, Surrey. A Coat of Arms granted to a Shirley family is a red shield, a chevron componee, counter componee silver and black, between three gold fleurs-de-lis, the Crest being three broad arrows, two in saltire and one in gold pale, silver plumed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Schirle, 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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