Recorded as Stear, Steer, Steere, the occupational Stearman, Steerman, and Sterman, and the patronymic Steers and Stears, this is an English medieval surname. It was originally either occupational or a nickname. If the former it was a metonymic job-descriptive name for someone who was employed as a cattleman, one responsible for tending the bullocks and young oxen. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century word 'steor', meaning a store cattle or steer. The name may also have been a nickname for someone thought to be truculent or aggressive like a young bullock, or perhaps given the robust humour of the medieval period - the reverse! Early examples of the surname recording include William Stereman in the rolls of Lincolnshire in the year 1202, Geoffrey Ster, in the Pipe Rolls of Worcester in 1209, and later in the registers of the diocese of Greater London, Elizabeth Steyres, who was christened on July 26th 1578 at St.Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and Jeremiah Steers who married Elizabeth Ammery at St. James's, Duke's Place, Westminster, on March 30th 1684. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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