- Recorded in many forms including Spir, Spire, Spiring, Spirett, and Spirit (English), Sapir, Shapiro, Spira, Spira, Spirer (German and Ashkenasic), this is or rather was, a surname of medieval origins. It has two possible sources. The first is a nickname from the pre 7th century word "spir" meaning a stalk, and hence given as a nickname to a tall thin, reed like person, or perhaps given the robust humour of those time, the complete reverse! The second possible origin is locational from the town of Speyer in Germany, which in ancient times, had a large Jewish population. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. These were names given to people after they left their original homes and settled elsewhere. Spelling being at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" spelling variants, such as we have with this surname. The first recording of the surname in any form is in England, because that is where the world's earliest recordings have survived. Thsese early recordings include Thomas Spir of the county of Essex in the year 1229, and Henry Sriryng of Worcester in the Hundred Rolls of 1275. In Germany Johannes Sperling is recorded in Hannover in 1297, Bertholdus Spir of Ebersheim in 1325, whilst Berhtolt Sper appears in the charters of Villingen in 1328.
Surnames reference. 2013.