This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and may be either a topographical or a locational surname. As a topographical name, Shaw was used for someone who lived by a copse, wood, or thicket, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "sceaga", copse, small wood. As a locational surname, Shaw is derived from any one of the numerous small places names Shaw, from the Old English "sceaga", such as those in Berkshire, Lancashire, and Wiltshire. Shaw in Berkshire is recorded as "Essages" in the Domesday Book of 1086, that in Lancashire as "Shaghe" in 1555, and the place in Wiltshire as "schaga" in the 1167 Pipe Rolls of the county. The development of the surname includes Richard de la Schawe (1275, Worcestershire), John ate Shaw (1295, Essex), and William Bithe Shaghe (1333, Somerset), and the modern forms of the name range from Shaw(e), Shay and Shay(e)s to Shave(s) and Shafe. One of the most notable bearers of the name was George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), who was born in Dublin into a Protestant family established in Ireland by William Shaw a captain in William 111's army, who went there circa 1689. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Schage, which was dated 1191, in the Berkshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of KIng Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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