Saturday, 21 May 2011

Origin of the Surname

This week I’ve mostly been looking at the origin of the name STEERS.

The following sources have been used:

1.     Oxford Dictionary of Surnames 3rd Edition. Reaney and Wilson. Oxford University Press. 1995. Page 426

2.     The Origin of English Surnames 5th Edition. Reaney. Routledge, Champman & Hall. 1979. Page 263

3.     A Dictionary of English Surnames 2nd Edition. Reaney and Wilson. Oxford University of Press. 1976. Page 332

4.     Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames With Special American Instances. Bardsley. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. 1967 (Originally Published London 1901). Page 715

5. (Accessed 20 May 2011)

It must be mentioned that in all the dictionaries STEERS is not given its own entry, instead it sits alongside STEER. The only source that mentions STEERS independently is the Surname Database5, however this links back to STEER.

The addition of the S to the end of STEER would suggest that the first STEERS was the ‘son of a STEER’ but until this is evidenced I won’t be presuming!

As for the name STEER all agree that it has its origins in the Old English, and comes from the word Stēor “a steers / young ox”.  Reaney1,2,3 tells us that STEER is also Nickname Surname and would have been given to person’s whose characterises resemble that of a steer, as for Robert LE STEER who was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of the County of Sussex, in the year 1296.

The variations of the name from these sources are given as


The Surname Database5 also mentions the following variations; STEAMAN, STERMAN, STEERSON but it does not provided source citations for these. Until I find more reliable citations for these three names I’ll not be following them up.

So it looks like I’ll be recording instances of the above as well as STEERS. This project is getting bigger and bigger.


  1. I have no personal interest in the surname, but here are some references for your one-name study:

    From Infant Life Protection Act indexes: "FOX, Thomas. To adopt Rita STEERS, 1904. List 15."

    I have not seen these myself, but apparently they are from the 'Telegraph' newspaper, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 27 Sep 1955, In Memoriam notices:

    STEERS - In loving memory of our dear Mother, Mother-in-law, Grandmother, who passed away 27th September, 1953. Verse follows. [Inserted by Peggy, Ray & Neville]

    STEERS - In loving memories of our Mother, Mother-in-law & Nana, who passed away 27th September, 1953. Verse follows. [Inserted by Betty, Arthur, Val & Rob]

  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace" []
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  3. Julie

    Many thanks for the references, much obliged.