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Sherwoods throughout History.

For further information on the history of Sherwood please visit these pages also:

    'Sherwood of England' by Mary Hale Sherwood 1926
    'Sherwoodiana' by Beatrix Carlson ca1950
    Letter from Beatrix Carlson

The earliest reference to the surname that I have come across is in 958AD, in The Literary Digest for 29 December 1928 which gives the following definition of the name:

"The name Sherwood is an English name signifying "Belonging to Sherwood, Nottingham". In the C14 the spelling was Sherwode, Shyrewode: in the C13, Scher(e)wode, Scirewode: in A.D. 958 Scirwude. (The first element is rather Old English ‘Scir’, bright, light-coloured, than OE ‘Scir’, district, Shire. In the Calendarium Inquisitorium Ad Quod Damnum (Edward II to Henry VII) 1325-26, Will’us de Sherwode is mentioned."

Some other early references to the name in England are given in A Dictionary of English Surnames by Reaney & Wilson (OUP, 1995):

William de Shirewude 1219 Assize Rolls: Yorks.

Alan de Shirewod 1327 Subsidy Rolls: Sussex

John Shirwod 1405 Inq. Post-Mortem Yorks.

Elizabeth Sherwood 1539 Coroners' Rolls: Notts.

From Sherwood(Notts), now a suburb of Nottingham, or 'dweller by the bright wood'. OE scir 'bright'. Cottle gives it as deriving from shire, the ancient word for a county.

For genealogists perhaps the most notable Sherwood was George F Tudor Sherwood, born 1867 in Fulham, London who was the first Secretary of the Society of Genealogists in London where many of his papers are deposited. His ancestors came from Drayton, Berkshire. (see below A Genealogical Guide, p.461 by J B Whitmore, London, 1953).

From Concise Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 1992.

SHERWOOD Mrs Mary Martha (1775-1851) authoress; d. of George BUTT; at school with Mary Russell MITFORD & Letitia Elizabeth LANDON; her Susan Gray very successful; m Capt. Henry SHERWOOD 1803; while in India devoted much attention to soldier's orphans & wrote Little Henry & his Bearer & Indian Pilgrim & History of the Fairchild Family in 3 parts 1818,1842 & 1847.

SHERWOOD Robert (flour.1632) Lexicographer. BA Corpus Christi Coll, Camb.1626. Wrote 1622 a French-English Dictionary.

SHERWOOD William (d.1482) Bishop of Meath, bishop 1460-82, Deputy-Viceroy 1475-77; Chancellor of Ireland 1475-81.

SHIRWOOD John (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.

SHIRWOOD Robert (fl.1520) Hebraist & Greek Scholar; studied Oxford.

SHIRWOOD William (fl.1260) Schoolman; Treasurer of Lincoln; eulogised by Roger BACON.

From A Genealogical Guide, p.461 by J B Whitmore(London, 1953) which contains pedigees printed between 1902 and 1953.)

SHERWOOD. Descent of Sherwood of Drayton etc., Berks 1570-1902. (G F T Sherwood,1902) Vis.Berks.,Harl.Soc. lvi, 278. Yorks. Peds., Harl. Soc. xcv,329. Pedigree Register, ii, 120. Ruvigny(Mortimer-Percy), 349. Surtees Soc. cxxii, 181. Burke L G. (1937).

From Armorial Families by Fox-Davies:

OLIVER CATON SHERWOOD Esq., Capt. West India Regt. Born -------, being the 2nd son of Thomas Caton S., sometime a Captain in the Army, Master of Army schools in India, and Staff Paymaster Rangapatam. Armorial Bearings: Per chevron or and ---, two olive trees eradicated in chief proper, and as many bill-hooks addorsed in base of the first. Motto: "In via sternere." Residence: Colchester, Essex(no picture of arms). Fairbairn's Crests Plate218, No.10 shows a hand holding a rose for Sherwood.

Who' Who 1995 lists four entries under SHERWOOD:

1. James Blair: Founder & President, Sea Containers Group, Bermuda & London since 1965. Chairman Orient-Express Hotels since 1987. b. 8 Aug 1933 s.of William Earl S. & Florence Balph S.; m. 1977 Shirley Angela Masser CROSS; two step-sons. Educ. Yale Univ(BA Economics 1955) Address: Hinton Manor, Hinton Waldrist, Oxon SN7 8SA.

2. (Peter) Louis (Michael): Chairman HTV Group since 1991. b.27 Oct 1941 s. of Peter Louis S. & Mervyn de TOLL. m. 1970 Nicole DINA; one s two d. Address: 10 College Rd, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HZ.

3. (Robert) Antony (Frank), CMG 1981 Asst. D-G. British Council 1977-81 b.29 May 1923 s.Frank Henry S. & Mollie MOORE. m. 1953 Margaret Elizabeth SIMPSON two s two d. Address: 18 Rivermount Gdns, Guildford GU2 5DN. Recreations include genealogy & family history.

4. Prof.Thomas FRCP, FRCR; Clinical Dean, Univ of Cambridge since 1984. b. 25 Sep 1934; m.1961 Margaret GOOCH. Address: 19 Clarendon St, Cambridge CB1 1JU.

Also listed is the Suffragan Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt.Rev.A W Morgan. Address: Sherwood House, High Oakham Road, Mansfield , Notts NG18 5AJ.


In past newsletters, I have featured several Sherwoods who were prominent Catholic recusants during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First and later monarchs. These included the Blessed Thomas of London, martyred by hanging at Tyburn on 7 Feb 1577, and Dr. John Sherwood and his family at Bath & Wells. Until recently I had nothing to connect these individuals, but on a recent visit to the SoG Library, I discovered a fascinating family tree drawn up by George F T Sherwood in his collection, which shows that they descend from a Yorkshire family at Walkington near Beverley. The tree starts with Henry Sherwood of Yorkshire (possibly related to the rigorous Sherwoods of Liversedge near Barnsley who married into the powerful Neville family) who had a son Thomas who married Alce, daughter of … Mewtas. They in turn had a son Henry of York, who was born in Nottingham, educated at Oxford University and became a Woollen Draper in London. He married Elizabeth Andrewes, by whom he had 14 children, and died at Bristol aged 66 at the house of his son Dr. John Sherwood mentioned above. Perhaps the most famous of his children was the Blessed Thomas Sherwood, born ca1550 in London. Thomas trained as a Catholic priest at both Douai and Rheims in France, after which he returned to London and came under suspicion as a spy for those who wished to depose the young Protestant Queen Elizabeth. He was associated with other Catholic families, in particular the family of Lady Tregonwell. The son of Lady Tregonwell turned him in to the authorities, who sent him to the Tower of London. There he was tortured in order to discover where he heard Mass, who the priest was who celebrated the Mass, and the names of other Catholics with whom he was associated.

St. Thomas More's son-in-law, William Roper, tried to send him money for medicine and food, but the officer at the Tower would not permit money to be spent on anything but clean straw for him to sleep on. Blessed Thomas Sherwood was twenty-seven years old at the time of his arrest, and his brother wrote an account of his sufferings and martyrdom. We also possess the directions given to the lieutenant of the Tower from the Privy Council, ordering him to obtain information from Thomas Sherwood on the rack. After his execution, his mother was arrested and put in prison, where she died fourteen years later.

He was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered for treason, thus becoming the first Catholic martyr of Elizabeth’s reign. For this the Pope later beatified him. His story is told in detail in the book Death to Elizabeth by Alison Plowden that I quoted from in Sherwood Forest, Aug 1998 No.5 p.4.

Other children of Henry were : John the Younger (bn 1559,died France ca1596), Richard (a priest at Rheims 1583), and Henry of Dublin, all of whom were Catholic priests, and finally Dr. John Sherwood M.D. Physician of Bath, born about 1545 and buried in Bath Abbey 16 Feb 1620. John married Mary …? in 1575 at Sandford Orcas in Somerset; they had seven sons & at least two daughters as follows:

1. John, a Roman Catholic.

2. Father Thomas, a Jesuit priest bn 1583 at Wells dec  21 Nov 1610. Nephew & namesake of the Blessed Thomas. Educ. Bath, entered English College at Rome 1607 as “Sherrington”.

3. James, bn ? 4. Phillip of Bath & St.Andrew Holborn, London where he married 1638 Barbara, a recusant. Will proved in PCC 18 Jul 1657 in which he leaves all to Eliz  wife of John KEMIS of Bath.

5. Robert bn ? 6. Henry bur. 3 June 1620 in Bath Abbey 7. another son.

8. Mary who married John PARHAM of Adber, Somerset. Their only son was Sir .. PARHAM, Knt. who married a daughter of Sir Thomas TRESHAM, Knt.
The surname Sherwood dies out in the parish registers of Bath by about 1750. This explains why the coats of arms for Sherwood families in Yorkshire, Somerset & London are so similar. It would appear that this line is now extinct, but I would be pleased to hear from any present-day descendants.