This unusual and interesting name has two possible origins, the first being Norman and an occupational surname for a watchman or lookout, derived from the Olde French verb 'espier', itself of Germanic origin, which in Middle English became 'espien' or 'spien', to watch or observe. The first recording of the name from this source is that of William le Spiour, in the Accounts of the Chamberlains of the county of Chester in 1302. One Robert Spyer is recorded in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire in 1379. The second possible origin of the modern surname, spelt 'spier', 'speir', and 'spyer' is Scottish, and is a variant of the name 'spear', a nickname for a tall, thin person or one skilled in the use of a hunting spear, from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'spere'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Sper, witness in Perth, which was dated circa 1232, Records of the Holy Trinity Monastery at Scone, during the reign of Alexander II of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017