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Our 2,765 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

I began studying my Shawyer ancestors in the early 1990s. In the early days, this meant tedious trips to Islington, using the ‘big books’ and fiche/film readers. Once websites like and had their archives online, conducting a One-Name study became much easier and I became hooked on discovering all I could about the surname of Shawyer.
I registered my study with the Guild in 2009.

Variant names

The variants I currently have registered are Shawer, Shiyer and Showyer.

In addition to the recognised variants of the name, I have come across a variety of census entries recorded under different surnames, most of which appear to be the result of regional accents or misunderstandings by the enumerators. Some Shawyer individuals have been found recorded under Sawyer, Sawyers, Shawger and Shayer.

I am currently investigating whether the irregular name Shawler is related to the Shawyer name or whether it is merely a variant of the more common surname Showler. To date, I have evidence that fits in both camps!

Name origin

Under review...

Historical occurrences of the name


Name frequency

According to an [ONS database] there are some 556 occurrences of Shawyer as of September 2002, ranking it as the 10444th most common surname.
This gives a frequency of 1 in 100540 or 0.0001% of the population. This is significantly less than on any of the published censuses and would indicate that the Shawyer name is growing at a slower rate than the population as a whole.

Distribution of the name

Since the 1700s, the Shawyer surname has been most prevalent in Hampshire and, to a lesser extent, in Sussex. The present of Shawyers in other counties can be traced, in the majority of cases, to migration from Hampshire or Sussex.

On of the 251 Shawyers listed on the 1841 census, 161 lived in Hampshire and 54 were found within Sussex. It was not until 1891 that the number of Shawyers living in Hampshire was less than 50% of the total Shawyer population in England – and even in 1901, the number of Shawyer individuals living in Hampshire and Sussex was 60% of the total.


Currently, all the GRO entries for England and Wales have been recorded, covering 1837-2006 for Births and Deaths, and 1837-2005 for Marriages. The GRO entries for Scotland are being gathered and will be posted when time permits.

All England and Wales census entries have been recorded, covering 1841 to 1901. The data for the 1911 census is currently being collated, and will be added as soon as I have checked the information I have collected.

This data can be found on the Shawyer One-Name Archive

I have also begun collecting all entries from the Parish Registers, both through the International Genealogical Index (available courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and the variety of registers now available on CD/DVD.

Future stages of the One-Name study will include gathering census and related data from the US and Canada, and collecting details of grants of probate from England and Wales.