Skip to content
  • Start free trial

Origins of the Shaw surname

A collage of historical images including two family portraits and a postcard of people boarding a ship

What does the name Shaw mean?

The origin of the Shaw surname is English and Scottish. It has a number of points of origin, most commonly it is topographical, coming from the Old English 'sceaga' (dweller by the wood) and relates to somebody who lived on or near a thicket or copse and their descendants. The surname Shaw sometimes can stem from an anglicisation of the Gaelic name 'Sitheach', but most often in Ireland it has arisen from the names that arrived during the plantation of the country in the 1600s.

Alternative variations of the name Shaw

Shaw, Shawe, Schaw, Schawe, Shave

I’ve managed to trace back to the mid-1500s! I can’t believe it! Utterly engrossing and I have uncovered some quite moving and heartbreaking stories attached to various ancestors. You don’t need any qualifications to start - just time patience, and some information.

TrustPilot review
1 of 3

Start your family tree

Trace your family back in time. Make new discoveries and see what other Findmypast family historians in our genealogy community have discovered about the Shaws.

Sign up to get started

Delve deeper into the Shaw family's history

Where do most Shaws live?

In 1921, most Shaws lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Shaws

How common is your surname?

50th most common surname in the UK

We have 544,000 records for the Shaw surname. The oldest one dates back to .

Who were Shaws most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Shaws.

What are the most common Shaw first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Shaw family members

Common jobs for Shaws

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Shaws in 1921
Cotton Weaver




Domestic Servant




House Keeper


Common Male occupations for Shaws in 1921
Coal Miner


General Labourer






Agricultural Labourer


An image of a census transcript and a picture of a dairy farmer holding two milk jugs

Census records provide incredible detail on names, ages, marital statuses, occupations and more.

We found over 450,000 family trees with the Shaw surname

Trace your family back in time and see what other Findmypast family historians in our genealogy community have discovered about the Shaws.

Search for a relative in our family trees

Share your discoveries

Find out more about your family in our records

or try an advanced search

Start your family history journey

Start free trial

Start free trial