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Our 2,940 members have registered
2,500 study surnames with us
and a further 6,342 variant names.
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About the study

The Study was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 1995 by Phil Sherwood, and now operates as an informal international study group with around 70 members, producing a newsletter twice a year. Anyone with an interest in any of the registered surnames is most welcome to join our group for which there is no subscription. Please apply to our group organiser, Mr Bryan Sherwood via the group web site at Links below.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are SHARWOOD, SHEARWOOD and SHURRUD. Other spellings, which can sometimes be related, are SHERRARD, SHIR(E)WOOD, SHEWARD, SHURWOOD, SHERWELL, CHERETT and CHARRATT, although these surnames may have different origins.

Name origin

An ancient English surname derived from the Old English elements 'Scir' (pronounced 'sher') meaning 'bright' or 'shire', and 'Wudu' - a Wood or collection of trees. Thus the name may have applied to a 'dweller in the bright wood' or a 'dweller in a wood near a Shire or County boundary'. It is thus of topographic origin (like the surname Wood) and may have sprung up independently in several regions at the same time. It is also the name of a forest and a place in Nottinghamshire, where the surname could be of toponymic origin.

History of the name

  • The earliest reference is in 958AD, when a SCIRWUDU was a prominent Saxon during the reign of the Wessex King Edwig ('The Literary Digest', 29 December 1928). Another early reference is to William de Shirewude 1219 Assize Rolls: Yorks.
  • For genealogists perhaps the most notable Sherwood was George F Tudor Sherwood, born 1867 in Fulham, London, who was a founder and first Secretary of the Society of Genealogists in London. His ancestors came from Drayton, Berkshire ca1530.
  • James Allen Sharwood (1859-1941), founder of J A Sharwood & Co. Ltd. the well known Grocery & Provision Merchants, who brought Chutney & Curry to the English. Born in the City of London and died in South Africa, his Sharwoods came from Irchester in Northants where they were recorded firstly as Sherwoods in the 17C. The ship bringing his ashes back to England was torpedoed.
  • Mrs Mary Martha Sherwood (1775-1851) authoress of many popular children's books, she was the Enid Blyton of her day.
  • Robert Sherwood (flour.1632), Lexicographer. B.A., Camb.1626. In 1622 wrote a French-English Dictionary, which continued in use for many years.
  • William Sherwood (d.1482), Bishop of Meath, bishop 1460-82, Deputy-Viceroy 1475-77; Chancellor of Ireland 1475-81.
  • John Sherwood (d.1494 Rome) Bishop of Durham; MA Univ. Coll, Oxford 1450; brought Greek authors from Italy; Edward IV's advocate at Rome; partisan of Richard III. He was in effect England's first overseas Ambassador.
  • William Shirwood (fl.1260) Schoolman; Treasurer of Lincoln; eulogised by Roger BACON.
  • Tim Sherwood, a professional English footballer, who has played for England and Spurs. Also Alf Sherwood for Cardiff & Wales 1940's.
  • James Blair Sherwood: Founder & President, Sea Containers Group, since 1965. Chairman Orient-Express Hotels since 1987. b. 8 Aug 1933 in USA, son of William Earl S. & Florence Balph S.

Name frequency

From the index of the 1881 census for England, Wales & Scotland produced by the Church of Latter Day Saints; there were 4,085 Sherwood & variants recorded in that census. By the 1901 census, this figure had risen to over 5000. In the 1880 census for the USA there were 8,545 Sherwoods (over twice as many as in the British 1881 census) of which 182 were of Black race, 39 Mulatto, and 3 Native American Indians in Washington & California. 154 gave their birthplace as England of whom 81 were male, 73 were born in Ireland and 16 in Scotland.

Distribution of the name

In the 1881 census the highest concentration of the surname was in the Home Counties around London, with Berkshire having five times the national average. Other clusters occurred in Worcestershire, Dorset, Kent, Yorkshire and Northumberland. The name occurred frequently in the Dublin area of Ireland, but was rare in Scotland & Wales. Distribution maps & statistics can be found on our website.


All entries from the General Register Offices BMD Indexes for England & Wales from 1837 to at least 1901 have been recorded. This data can be searched on the Guild web site. Complete extracts have been made from the 1901 census on-line, and sorted into family groups. Some census indexes are also held for other years.

Many PCC Wills have been abstracted from the Sherwood Collection at the SoG, and many grants of probate since 1858 in England and Wales have also been recorded. Records of WW1 Soldiers in Class WO363 at TNA are also being abstracted. We also hold numerous entries from Parish Registers as well as pedigrees submitted by many researchers.


There are several Y-DNA studies registered with Family Tree DNA, see