Surname Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
Sharp is an old surname originally from Europe and it has its origin in the Old English word “scearp” or in the Old German word “shcarf”, both can me translated to actual English as sharp, and it was used to describe a person who was sharp or smart. This is a surname that is derived from a nickname used to referred or called a certain person, and then was passed on from father to son and it became a last name.
One of the first records of a Sharp family is located in Saxony from where they moved to Yorkshire in the 13th century and from there they spread across all England, especially to the north of Scotland after the War of the Roses in 1470. It was in that area where the surname was most common, however, another branch stayed at the south in Bristol in the area of Bradford, Yorkshire. Another old Sharp family was from Strathclyde-Briton and they lived in the area of Peeblesshire. The first record of a carrier of Sharp, or at least an old form of it, belongs to Healden Scearpa, who appears in the “Old English Bynames” of 1026 in the county of Kent, at the same time of the reign of King Canute.
During the Medieval Era in Europe, many languages lacked grammatical rules, so there wasn’t a single or correct way of writing a word, actually, they were written according to how they sound, and it happened to surnames too. This caused that several people appeared in documents in different written ways, although they all were referring to the same person. With the pass of time, this caused different spelling variations for a single surname and them to actual different surnames. Another factor to add was the mix of languages in the continent, so in the case of Sharp, the following were some of its more frequent variations: Sharpe, Scharpe, Scharp, Schearpe and also its diminutives Sharpin, Sharplin, Sharpling and many others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The surname Sharp didn’t spread across whole Europe as other surnames did, in fact, it is not carried by a lot of people, just barely by approximately 151,761 people in the world which make the 3,582nd most common surname in the world. It is most prevalent in the United States and it has its highest density in Scotland, which is no rare since this is the place where it has been present for centuries. The second country with more Sharps is the United States and in the 3rd place is England, which it is not strange either for the same reason as the location of its highest density.
Early Bearers of the Surname
Despite the fact, that nowadays Sharp is not a common surname, there were a lot of old bearers registered such as Aimer Scharp who appeared in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire in 1184, Aylmar Sarp who can be found in the tax registers called the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1228, Alexander Scharp from Buckinghamshire, who appeared in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, Alan Sharp in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296 and Adam Scharpe in the Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379. Others were William Scharp who was a tenant of earl Douglas of Kilbucho, around 1376, Patrick Sharp who held the land of Denburn in 1439, Alexander Sharp from Strathey, Perthshire in 1545, another William Sharp, preceptor of Traileou around 1535 and John Scharpe, a merchant of Dumfries in 1656.
There was a register of a wedding in the diocese of Greater London between Danis Sharp and Joane Paynter on February 12, 1564, there was a John Sharpling at St Dionis Backchurch on December 8, 1724, and another wedding between George Sharplin and Mary Charnmore at St Katherines by the Tower on April 1, 1744. Others old bearers were James Sharp (1613-1679) who was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and John Sharp (1644-1714) who was Archbishop of York.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
There are not many records of the lines of the Sharp family. Nevertheless, there is one that it was very well made, the Sharp of Linden Hall. This family began with William Sharp, who was the Esquire of Linden Hall and married Jane Taylor, the niece of Rev. John Taylor and the only child of William Taylor, the Esquire of Borwrick Lodge and his wife Jane Parkinson, daughter of Henry Parkinson, the Esquire of Woodacre Hall. William Sharp and Jane Taylor had the following children: the first born John, of The Hermitage, who married Margaret Brown, daughter of Thomas Brown, Esquire of Stain-forth-under-Barge on June 3, 1840, and their children were William Thomas, who was born on May 17, 1841, and married Emily Preston, daughter of the Rev. George Preston. The second child of John and Margaret was John Rimington who was born on April 26, 1843, and became a Captain in the King’s Own Royal Regiment, and married in 1875 with Jessie Charteris, the next ones were Walter Josias, who was born on June 19, 1846, Charles Taylor who was born on January 2, 1855, Frederick Joseph who was born on December 7, 1859 and the last one was Margaret.
The second child of William and Jane was named William after his father. He married Carla Williams, who was the daughter of John Williams, Esquire of Seymour Street in London. There are not records of their offspring. The third child was Henry Parkinson who didn’t marry or had children. The fourth son of William Sharp and Jane Taylor was James Atkinson, who married Hanna Arundale, the eldest daughter of Richard Grainger, Esquire of Newcastle. James and Hanna had one son and two daughters. The fifth son was Edward, who got married to Sarah Catherine, who was the only daughter of James Aspinall Turner, Esquire of Pendlebury House. From this marriage would be born two sons, from which one died shortly after.
William Sharp and Jane Taylor also had daughters, the first one was Alice who got married to Cornelius Bourne, Esquire of Stalmine Hall. They had one son and one daughter, and then she died on November 29, 1860, and he did the same on February of 1866. The next daughter was Jane Taylor who died on April 30, 1866, and didn’t marry or have any children. Then there was Milicent, who got married Robert William Waithman, Esquire of Moyne Park and Moyvannon Castle, and they had a son and two daughters. The last daughter was Elizabeth who got married to Joseph Waithman and had one son and one daughter.
Another branch of Sharp was the one from West Riding, Yorkshire England around 1638. This line also started with a William Sharp who got married to Hannah and their children were: Elizabeth Sharp who was born in Flower, Northamptonshire, England on August 29, 1656, and married Thomas Flakner on May 25, 1682. Elizabeth died on November 29, 1705. The second child was Henry Sharp who was born in the same place on November 7, 1659, and he was the only who didn’t move away from Flower. The third child was John Sharp who was born on December 29, 1661, the fifth Hugh Sharp, was born on March 11, 1622, and died while still been a child. The next child was also named Hugh Sharp who was also born in Flower on June 3, 1668, and he got married to Rachel French on February 9, 1701. The last son of William and Hanna was William Sharp who was born on Jun 28, 1670, in the same city of his brothers and sister. He got married to Jemina Estlack in Newton, Colony, Collingswood on Jun 18, 1695. From this group of children, Elizabeth and Henry moved to America while John, Hugh, and William remained in England.
There are records of others lines of the surname Sharp, although they are very short. The first one is the one of John Sharp, a farmer in England who became a Commonwealth tax collector. His son Abraham was successful mathematician and astronomer. The other belongs to Thomas Sharp who was a wet and dry-salter. His first born was John Sharp who became a chaplain of King James II. Then Thomas Sharp, the son of John, was the Archdeacon of Durham and great writer about theology, he had two grandsons, William Sharp, who was the surgeon of George III and Granville Sharp who played a major role in the fight against slavery.
Early American and New World Settlers
After the travels from Europe to America began, a lot of people decided to arrive at the new continent to try a new life, this is how the surnames of the old continent started to be used in this region. Some of the carriers of the surname Sharp landed in the current territory of the United States and part of them are Elizabeth Sharp who arrived in Virginia in 1620 with her husband, Judith Sharp, who also landed in Virginia but in 1622 and at the next year Samuel and another Judith Sharp did the same.
During the 18th century more Sharps landed in the US, specifically in Virginia, where in 1704 Benj Sharp, Robert Sharp, and Richard Sharp arrived, then in 1705 Nich Sharp also arrived in Virginia and in 1710, Adam Sharp landed in New York.
In the next century, Sharps continued to get in the United States such as Pieter Sharp who landed in Pennsylvania in 1801, Richard Sharp also arrived in America in that same year, Robert Sharp arrived in America in 1811, Alexander Sharp landed in Virginia between 1811 and 1816 and Calvin Sharp, arrived to New York in 1812.
There were others carriers of the surname Sharp who arrived in Canada, some of them were William Sharp, who arrived in Newfoundland in 1703, John Sharp who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749, and in 1750 another John Sharp, Sarah Sharp and Thomas Sharp also arrived in Nova Scotia. During the 19th century the migration continued with Mary Sharp, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1835 and during 1841 Robert Sharp, Walter Sharp and Ichabod Sharp also landed in Canada.
Mottoes were used by families to communicate a certain aspect about themselves, such as their code of conduct, to who they were loyal, their religious beliefs or how they see live. There were occasions in which the motto of a family was included on their coat of arms. There are records of only two mottoes for the surname Sharp, the first one was “Dum spiro spero” which can be translated into English as “While I have breath I hope” and the second one was “Progredior” which in English means “I advance”.
There were several grantees of the surname Sharp, some of them are John Sharp, the Dean of Canterbury from 1689 until 1691 at the service of the Archbishop of York, George Sharp of Hexham in 1800, Bowlt Sharp in 1818, Sir Cuthbert Sharp of Black Hall in Durham during 1822, William Sharp of Claybury in 1842, Jeff Sharp of Gloue and Scotland in 1831 and Herbert Sharp of Myrtle Grove, Bingley in 1897.
The surname Sharp has many remarkable carriers in different fields, such as Graeme Marshall Sharp (b. 1960) and Scottish football player, Anne Sharp (1916-2011) a coloratura soprano from Scotland, the English astronomer Abraham Sharp (1651-1742), Bree Sharp (b. 1975) an American singer and songwriter, Hap Sharp (1928-1993) an American Formula One driver, the British actor Leonard Sharp (1890-1958), James Sharp (b. 1976) an English football player, Alan Sharp (1934-2013) a Scottish novelist and screenwriter, Anthony Sharp (1915-1984) an English actor. The list continue with the English guitar player Dave Sharp (b. 1959), Gene Sharp (b. 1928) an American political scientist, Harry Sharp (1917-1995) an American race car driver, Lesley Sharp (b. 1964) a English actress, James Lyall Sharp (b. 1960) a British diplomat, Margaret Sharp Baroness Sharp of Guildford (b. 1938) member of the British House of Lords, Matt Sharp (b. 1969) an American rock bass player, Pat Sharp (b. 1961) a British television presenter and many others.