This is an English medieval surname, of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins. It is usually regarded as being occupational, and a metonymic job-descriptive name for a cattle dealer, or cattleman, one specifically responsible for fattening steers or oxen. The derivation is from the word 'steor', which is self explanatory. The surname is recorded in the spellings of Steer, Steere, Stear, Stearman and Sterman, and the patronymics Steers and Stears, short forms of Steerson. The name is also on occasions a nickname for a person thought to have the characteristics of a steer! This is clearly the case in the recording of Robert le Steer, in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Sussex, in the year 1296. Later recordings taken from authentic church registers of the period include Elizabeth Steyres who was christened on July 26th 1578, at the famous church of St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and Jeremiah Steers, who married Elizabeth Ammery at St. James's church, Duke's Place, London, on March 30th 1684. The surname was one of the earliest into the new American colonies. Robert Steere, aged 17, being a passenger on the ship "Assurance of London", which reached Virginia in October 1635.The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Geoffrey Ster, which was dated 1209, in the Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Being the second son of the king, he was unkindly known as 'Lackland'. This name was quickly dropped, when in 1199 he inherited the whole kingdom from his brother Richard, the Lionheart.
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