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The Shakespeare Family History Site

 What's the meaning of it all?

SHAKESPEARE - From Skegsby? (Domesday Book - Schegebill a local name; Nottinghamshire. This word is derived from (Danish)-Schacke;(Flemish)-Schack, Schakael; (Swedish)-Scheike; personal name.

(Dutch) boer or byr, a dwelling. Compare Shakerley, Schackerston, Exbear, Ailesbear, Shebbear, etc. In Rot. Obl. et Fin., K. John, it is spelt Scheggeby,

from "British Family Names". Henry Barber 1894


The name of SHAKESPEARE has probably nothing to do with a spear. The name is derived from Schalkesboar, the knave's farm. Neither schalk nor knave originally implied anything but  what was honourable. Schalk was a servant, and enters into the name Godshalk, God's servant. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxon scealc was used as a designation of a warrior. Adrian IV - or Nicolas Breakspear, as he was called before his elevation to the Papacy-took his name from Bragi's boer, the farm of Bragi.
from "Family Names and their Story". S. Baring-Gould, M.A. Seeley & Co. Ld., London 1910


Shakespeare is far more likely to have been a real spear - shaker, a soldier, than the 'Jaques-Pierre' dreamed up by one of the tribe of ingenious etymologists.
from  The Guiness Book of Names. Leslie Dunkling 1974

See also: The Shakespear/ Shakespeare Debate - a look at the various spellings of the surname

Provided by Roy W Shakespeare