This interesting Anglo-Scottish surname recorded in the spelling forms of Spears, Speers, Speirs, Spiers, Spires, and possibly others, is a patronymic form of the surname Spier or Spear. The name is job descriptive, being an official title for a keeper of the Watch, in other words an early policeman. The derivation is either from the pre 10th century Old French "espier" meaning to watch or observe, the word being introduced after the Norman Invasion of 1066, or it may have been a nickname for a hunter or a maker of spears, in which case the derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century "spere", meaning "to spear". The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th Century, (see below)and early examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic records and registers of the period include William le Spiour in the "Accounts of the Chamberlains" of the county of Chester in 1302, and Robert Spyer, who was recorded in the 1379 Poll Tax returns for the county of Yorkshire. Other examples from church registers include on December 6th 1620, the marriage of Jonas Spiers to Elizabeth Burch at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, and their son John, was christened in the same place on August 27th 1621. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Sper,a charter witness in Perth, Scotland, which was dated circa 1232. This was in the rolls known as the register of the Holy Trinity Monastery at Scon., during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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