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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Sheriff family come from? What is the English Sheriff family crest and coat of arms? When did the Sheriff family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Sheriff family history?

The Sheriff name was coined by the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Sheriff was originally a name given to someone who worked as a person who held the office of sheriff. This occupational surname was originally derived from the Old English words scir meaning shire and refa meaning reeve. The surname was originally derived from the "shire-reeve," a Vice Count who was in charge of the law for a shire or county. [1] Before the Norman Conquest the sheriff was the king's representative in a county, responsible for every aspect of local administration in England.

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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Sheriff are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Sheriff include: Sheriff, Sherrif, Sherriff, Shirreffs, Sheriffs and many more.

First found in Warwickshire where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sheriff research. Another 153 words(11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sheriff History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Sheriff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Sheriff or a variant listed above:

Sheriff Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • William Sheriff, who settled in Boston in 1716
  • Margaret Sheriff, who settled in South Carolina in 1764

Sheriff Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Adam D Sheriff, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Anthony Sheriff, aged 43, landed in Kentucky in 1812
  • Charles Sheriff, who arrived in New York in 1834
  • Robert Sheriff, who landed in New York in 1840

Sheriff Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • William Sheriff, aged 46, a cooper, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Isabella Sheriff, aged 45, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • George Sheriff, aged 13, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Margaret Sheriff, aged 11, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Robert Sheriff, aged 5, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849


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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Esse quam videri
Motto Translation: To be, rather than to seem.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  4. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  7. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  10. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  11. ...

The Sheriff Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sheriff Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 July 2015 at 12:32.

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