Show ContentsShirreff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Shirreff is a name that was formed by the Anglo-Saxon society of old Britain. The name was thought to have been used for someone who once 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 Shirreff family

The surname Shirreff 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 Shirreff family

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

Shirreff Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Shirreff include Sheriff, Sherrif, Sherriff, Shirreffs, Sheriffs and many more.

Early Notables of the Shirreff family

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

Australia Shirreff migration to Australia +

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

Shirreff Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Clifford Shirreff, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Royal George" in 1848 [2]
  • Miss. Helen Shirreff, (Sinclair, Henderson), Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baretto Junior" on 5th April 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Shirreff (post 1700) +

  • Squadron Leader Alexander Campbell Shirreff (1919-2006), known as Alan Shirreff, an English pilot who served in the Royal Air Force during the after the Second World War
  • General Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff (b. 1955), known as Richard Shirreff, British Army officer, General in the Iraq War (2003–2011), Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (2014)
  • William Henry Shirreff (1785-1847), British Royal Navy officer, Captain of HMS Andromache, HMS Barrosa, HMS Warspite, and HMS Gibraltar, father of Maria Georgina Grey and Emily Anne Eliza Shirreff
  • Charles Shirreff (1768-1847), Scottish-born, Canadian businessman and public official
  • Charles Shirreff (1750-1830), deaf-mute Scottish miniaturist
  • John Shirreff (1759-1818), Scottish agricultural writer, was the son of an East Lothian farmer
  • Emily Anne Eliza Shirreff (1814-1897), British pioneer in the cause of women's education, elder daughter of Rear-admiral William Henry Shirreff (1785–1847)

The Shirreff 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. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ROYAL GEORGE 1848. Retrieved from
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from on Facebook