Sheriff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Sheriff family

The surname Sheriff was 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.

Early History of the Sheriff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sheriff research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 156 and 1567 are included under the topic Early Sheriff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sheriff Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Sheriff family (pre 1700)

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

Sheriff Ranking

In the United States, the name Sheriff is the 12,949th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Sheriff migration to the United States +

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, who arrived in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Anthony Sheriff, aged 43, who landed in Kentucky in 1812 [3]
  • Charles Sheriff, who arrived in New York in 1834 [3]
  • Robert Sheriff, who landed in New York in 1840 [3]

Australia Sheriff migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Sheriff Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary Sheriff, Scottish Convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atwick" on 28 September 1837, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Mr. Benjamin Sheriff, (b. 1816), aged 24, English farm labourer who was convicted in Leicester, Leicestershire, England for life for house breaking, transported aboard the "Duncan" on 10th December 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1896 [5]

New Zealand Sheriff migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Sheriff Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Sheriff, aged 46, a cooper, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Isabella Sheriff, aged 45, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • George Sheriff, aged 13, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Margaret Sheriff, aged 11, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Robert Sheriff, aged 5, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Sheriff (post 1700) +

  • Mary Diana Lee Sheriff (1950-2016), American art historian, Distinguished Professor of Art History at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Kenneth Chance High Sheriff,

HMS Royal Oak
  • John George Sheriff (1911-1939), British Petty Officer Telegraphist with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [6]

The Sheriff Motto +

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.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 23rd August 2020, retreived from
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th August 2021). Retrieved from
  6. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook
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