There are two possible origins of this interesting name, which although found widely through England is specifically associated with Yorkshire. Firstly, it may be a baptismal semi-nickname 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 "at the Shire", a division or territory from residence there. A good example is Gregory atte Shire, recorded in the Calender of Wills for the year 1397. Later church recordings include Agnes Shyres, daughter of William Shyres, christened at St Peters, Leeds on August 21st 1579. The name spelling seems to have adopted the 'modern' form in the 17th century, an example being Francis Shires, christened at Bolton Abbey, on December 10th 1689, in the reign of William and Mary. The usual spellings include Shires, Shire, Shier, Sheer, Shere, Sherr and Shears. Ann Shire, daughter of Owen and Sarah Shire was christened in 1718 at St Olaves Church, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Le Schir, which was dated 1193, in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart" 1189 - 1199. 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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