S is for …

Another in my ad hoc series on surname origins.

Based on: Reaney, P H, (ed. Wilson, R M), 1997, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd ed., OUP, Oxford, unless otherwise stated.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: John Scuffum, father of George, born about 1801, Pipe Hill, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

I have yet to find anything credible.

Houses at Pipe Hill, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: William Shadbolt, born about 1858, London.

“Perhaps dweller at the building on the boundary”, from Old English scead and bool.  However, in the next entry the “Shad” part seems to be equated with “shadow” and perhaps a thin man.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Joseph Shelley, born about 1809, Bonehill (part of Tamworth), Staffordshire.  His wife was Mary, though I suspect she was not the creator of Count Dracula!

From Shelley, in Essex, Suffolk or West Yorkshire.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: William Shelton, born about 1797, Warwickshire, but moved to Church Eaton, Staffordshire.

From Shelton, in Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire or Staffordshire.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Mary Sherwood, born about 1773, Hemingbrough, Yorkshire.

From Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, or “dweller by the bright wood”.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Samuel and Mary Shingler, parents of Samuel Shingler, baptised 24 June 1798, Lilleshall, Shropshire.

From Middle English schinglen, to cover with shingles [a sort of tile], a roofer.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Thomas Shockleage, born about 1807, Stafford, Staffordshire.

Reaney offers nothing.  Another mystery.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Robert William Sleep, born about 1873, Sunderland, Durham.

From the Shropshire expression sleape, “dweller at the slippery place”, from Old English sloepe.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Sarah Smith, born about 1801, Solihull, Warwickshire.

Worker at the smithy.  [Probably a blacksmith.]


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Martha Spurge, born 9 October 1819, Woolwich, Kent.

Nothing in Reaney.  The Internet Surname Database suggests it is topographical, related to the plant spurge, but this plant seems to grow everywhere.  It was a perennial nuisance in my garden and I just don’t buy it.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Joseph Stanley, born about 1799, Yoxall, Staffordshire.

From any of the numerous places named Stanley.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  William Steward, born about 1828, Walsall, Staffordshire.

Probably from someone employed as a steward, though there is a remote possibility of a link to the Scottish Royal house, Stewart.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Samuel Sturgess, born about 1813, Repton, Derbyshire.

From Old Danish and Old Swedish Thorgisl, Thor’s hostage.  Older versions of the name include Turgis, Turgisle and Turgisus.  The distribution in the Domesday Book shows almost all in the areas controlled by the Danes, which fits with the notion that the origin is Scandinavian or Viking.  My Dennis-related folk, perhaps.  See PASE Domesday.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  John Swan, father of Elizabeth Swan, baptised 9 March 1709, Penkridge, Staffordshire.

This is less simple that might at first be supposed.  It could be from Old English swān [swain can mean a country person, archaic], herdsman, swineherd or peasant, or a nickname from Old English swan or swon, swan, or an anglisized version of Old Norse Sveinn, or from the sign of the swan.

Mute swans


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  Devereux Swinburn, born about 1839, Knowle, Warwickshire.

From Swinburn, Northumberland, or dweller by the pig [or swine?] brook.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  John Swindell, born about 1823, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

The explanation given by Reaney is “from Swindale House, Skelton, [North Yorkshire]”, but, surely, there is a more prosaic origin based on swine and dell?

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