Origin of the Name Sheriff
The origin of the name Sheriff
was found in the allfamilycrests.com archives. Variants of the name Shreve include Shrieve, Shreeve, Shreeves, Shrive, Shrieves, Sheriff, Sherriff, Sherive and many others. This is an occupational name derived from the old English words 'scir' and 'reeve' mean a Sheriff or Bailiff. The Sheriff was a hugely important role in medieval England with the post-holder being responsible to the King. As the role of the King diminished and Parliament assumed power the Sheriff too saw his influence wane with their power being reduced to the administration of the Courts and legal system. A very early bearer of the name was an Aethelwine Sciregerefa who was recorded in the Old English Bynames of Kent in the year 1016. A Walter Sherrev was recorded in the 'Curia Rolls of Kent' in the year 1220. A Thomas Shreeve was recorded in the 'Annals of Ispwiche', Suffolk, in the year 1457.
Names were recorded in these ancient documents to make it easier for their overlords to collect taxes and to keep records of the population at any given time. When the overlords acquired land by either force or gifts from their rulers, they created charters of ownership for themselves and their vassals. It was by creating, maintaining and updating these reference books that they were able to maintain their authority and enforce laws.
In Ireland this name and its variants were introduced into Ulster Province by settlers who arrived from England and Scotland, especially during the seventeenth century. It was the 'Plantations of Ireland' in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that marked the end of Gaelic supremacy in Ireland. While the influx of settlers in the wake of the earlier Anglo-Norman invasion of the twelfth century resulted in a full integration into Irish society of the new arrivals, the same never occurred with the Ulster Planters who maintained their own distinct identity.
The Sheriff coat of arms came into existence centuries ago. The process of creating coats of arms (also often called family crests) began in the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this. The new art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own coat of arms, including all Sheriff descendants.