This interesting and unusual surname, derives from the Old English name "Spearh(e)afoc", Sparrow-hawk, found as a personal name before the Conquest, and was used as a nickname for someone bearing a physical resemblance to a sparrow-hawk, or someone of a fierce and rapacious appearance, or with a large hooked nose. Alternatively it could also be a metonymic occupational name for a hawker who was somebody who bred and trained hawks, which was major medieval sport. The personal name itself dates from the Domesday Book in the 11th Century. The surname first appears in the early 13th Century. One Robert Sperhanec is recorded in 1221, in the Assize Rolls of Warwickshire. A Thomas Sparhawk and William Sparhawk are both listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327. James Sparrowhawk was a landholder in the parish of Christchurch in the Barbadoes in 1680, being one of the first settlers in the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Sparheuec, which was dated 1221, Assize Rolls or Warwickshire, 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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