This interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is an occupational name for someone who worked with shovels, either making or selling them, or who used a shovel regularly in his work. The name derives from the Middle English "schovel", shovel (from the Olde English pre 7th Century "scofl", a derivative of "scufan", to push or shove), with the agent suffix "-er", a person or thing that performs a specified action. A shovel would be an instrument used for lifting or scooping loose material, such as earth or coal, and consists of a curved blade or a scoop attached to a handle. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Walter le Shouelere is noted in the 1314 Middle English Occupational Terms of Hertfordshire, and Nicholas Schoveler is listed in the 1366 Court Rolls of the Borough of Colchester. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Shouler, Shoveller and Showler, to Shovelar, Shoveler and Shovlar. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of Elsabeth, daughter of Jazian Shoveler, in June 1589, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London; the marriage of Marie Shovelar and William Staples on January 1st 1621, at St. Dunstan's in the East, London; and the christening of Ann, daughter of Daniel and Mary Ann Shovlar, on April 8th 1827, at Meopham, Kent. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Schovelere, which was dated 1301, in the "Middle English Occupational Terms of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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