This most interesting surname, with variant spellings Shreeve(s), Shreve, Shrive, Schrieve, Shireff, and Sheriff, originated as an occupational name for a sheriff, a word derived from the Old English "scir", shire, administrative district, plus "(ge)refa", reeve, an occupational name for a steward or bailiff. In England before the Norman Conquest the sheriff was the King's representative in a county, responsible for every aspect of local administration. By the 19th Century, they were more or less confined to the administration of county courts and prisons.Huge le Sirreve was mentioned in the Curia Rolls of Leicester in 1212, while the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire record one Alan Sciriue in 1219. A Walter Sherrev was listed in 1220 in the Curia Rolls of Kent, one Thomas Shyrreue was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire in 1230. Thomas Shreeve was mentioned in the Annals of Ispwiche, in Suffolk in 1457. The Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk record one Robert Shryve in 1568. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aethelwine Sciregerefa, which was dated 1016, in the Old English Bynames, Kent, during the reign of King Canute, King of the Danes, 1016 - 1035. 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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