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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(co. Cornwall). Az. a garb or, banded gu. a bird feeding on the top.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Shear Coat of Arms and Family Crest

Shear Origin:


Origins of Shear:

This interesting and unusual name was used as a nickname, for example "the son of Shear", a respectful particular love name acquiring from the ancient English word "scher" or "schir" itself deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "scir" which means "fair, clear" or "shining" and frequently given as a love name to someone of glowing beauty or one with good shining hair. The surname from this origin was first listed in the second part of the 12th Century. One, Reginald le Scher arises in the 1327 "Premium Rolls of Staffordshire." The nickname forms of the name consist of Shear(e)s, Sheer(e)s and Shires well listed in London Parish Records from the mid of the 16th Century onwards. The component "s" added to the name is a shortened form of "son(of)." in October 1613, the naming of Rachell, daughter of John Shears listed at St. Michael, Bassishaw and in January 1665 a Peheby Shears named in St. Dunstan in the East.


More common variations are: Sheare, Sheary, Schear. Sheara, Sheyar, Sheari, Shearh, Shewar, Sheair, Sheaer.


The origins of the surname Shear was found in Surrey where people held a family seat from early times being Kings of the Castle of Shere listed in the Domesday Book inspection derived in the year 1086 A.D. As being ' Lord's Land' and containing a Parish and mills. The real name of the hamlet of Shere was ' Essira' and it perhaps took that this was also the real spelling of the surname, derived from a not identified Norman gentleman who arrived into England with William, the invader in the year 1066.

The very first recorded spelling of the family was shown to be that of Walter Le Schir, dated about 1193, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire." It was during the time of King Richard I, who was known to be the “Richard the Lionheart," dated 1189-1199. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England. Surnames all over the country began to develop, with unique and shocking spelling variations of the original one.


Many of the people with name Shear had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.

United States of America:

Individuals with the surname Shear settled in the United States in three different centuries respectively in the 17th, 18th, and 19th. Some of the people with the name Shear who settled in the United States in the 17th century included Hans Shear at the age of 27 arrived in Pennsylvania in the year 1732.

The following century saw more Shear surnames come. Some of the people with the name Shear who settled in the United States in the 19th century included James Shear landed in Texas from the year 1850 to 1906. William Shear, C H Shear and Charles Shear, all landed in San Francisco, California in the same year 1851.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Shear: United States 4,333; England 419; Australia 50; Netherlands 13; Canada 160; South Africa 639; Scotland 26; Israel 165; India 46; Spain 8.

Notable People:

Alex Shear was an American Memorizer.

Barry Shear (1923-1979), was an American movie producer and film director.

Cornelius Lott Shear (1865-1956), was an American biologist and fungus observer.

Harold E. Shear (1918-1999), was an American administrator of the American Navy.

Ione Mylonas Shear (1936-2005), American Classical paleologist. She was the daughter of archaeologist George E. Mylonas. She lived her life in St. Louis, Missouri, to where her father was a teacher. She got her early education at Wellesley College and Bryn Mar College.

Josephine Platner Shear (1901-1967), was an American traditional classicist.

Julia L. Shear (born 1968), is an American classical paleologist. He was born in the year 1968.

Rhonda Shear (born 1954), is an American artist, entertainer, and performer. She took part in the early 1970s at various beauty competitions in part. In 1975, she got the title Miss Louisiana.

T. Leslie Shear, Jr. (Theodore Leslie Shear, Jr., born 1938), is an American classical archaeologist.

Theodore Leslie Shear (1880-1945), was an American Classic archaeologist. He was the son of Theodore R. Shear (1847-1909) and Mary Louise Quackenbush. He graduated from Collegiate School in New York.

Tom Shear (born 1971), is an American musician, composer, and recorder.

Shear Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Shear blazon are the garb and bird. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and or.

Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 1. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 2.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.3. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 4. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.5.

Europe in the middle ages was still a largely agrarian society, and the wealth of the nobility resided in their estates and land. Since most people still lived and worked on the land they would find farm implements instantly recognisable, (an important feature for a coat of arms), even if they seem obscure to us today. 6 The garb for example is an ancient word for wheatsheaf, something now more frequently seen in Inn signs than in the field! 7

Birds of great variety occur throughout heraldry, at least in name 8. In truth, despite the proliferation of species, the actual depictions can sometimes be hard to distinguish! The crane, heron and stork are commonly to be found on a coat of arms but all tend to share the same stylised appearance 9.

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  • 1 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150
  • 3 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 4 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 5 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 6 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 86
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Garbe
  • 8 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P233
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P164