Shearer — What’s in a Name?

There are numerous Shearer lines in America, not to mention Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia . . .   There are also German Shearer families in America, most of whom descended from colonial settlers in Pennsylvania.

Many American Shearer families originated in Scotland or in northern Ireland, where numerous Scots located before their descendants moved to the British colonies on the west side of the Atlantic.

The many variant spellings of the Shearer name include, among others, Sherer, Shirer, Sherror, Sharror, and Sherrow.  It is an occupational name, like Smith, Baker, or Farmer.   However, there is some disagreement as to what a “shearer” did. Shearers may have sheared sheep, but some name authorities state that shearers used scissors to “shear off” or finish off rough tweed cloth, an important manufacture in Scotland several centuries ago.

Is there a clan Shearer, or is the name Shearer a “sept,” or allied family?

Some sources show Shearer as a family allied with Clan MacDuff. Others show a link to Fife and Aberdeen in the 14th Century, or from Aberdeenshire in general.  Some American colonists named Shearer emigrated from northern Ireland as well.

There is also a (probably modern) tartan for the surname Shearer (Shearer of Alva). It is shown on the Scottish Register of Tartans:

Finally, here is what one member of the Shearer family provides on

From: “John Shearer” <email suppressed>Subject: [SHEARER] Tartan

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 22:03:55 -0000

Hello Clan,

The surname Shearer has an occupational origin and is derived from the word ‘Scerare’ meaning one who dresses the pile of cloth.  The English equivalent of our name is Sherman, from Shearman.

The earliest record of the name in Scotland is from 1316, when William Shearer was a Baillie of Berwick.   In 1399 John Shearer was a Bailiff and Burgess of Aberdeen.  In 1405 another John Shearer was Chaplain of the Order of St Ninian.  A William Shearer was a Burgess of Aberdeen in 1451.  John Shearer was Archdeacon of Ross in 1503.

The Shearers I am descended from moved to Glasgow from Thurso before the Battle  of Waterloo.

The name is common in Caithness and in the Orkney Islands.

I am sorry to disappoint you all but I don’t think we have ever had a tartan and in case this disappoints any of you too much please bear in mind that most tartans were invented a couple of hundred years ago or less.Our famous people include Moira Shearer the famous ballerina, Norma Shearer the famous actress and Allan Shearer the last Captain of England’s football team and current captain of Newcastle.

John Shearer

(I hope John doesn’t mind our quoting him fully.)



Richard Mason 4/17/1827 – 9/17/1896

Richard Mason.  [For photos, click here.]

Data from the tombstone of his wife, Mary Ann Fain Mason. She was buried at Maggie’s Chapel Cemetery in Brasstown, NC: Mary Ann Fain. 12/29/1829 – 4/29/1918. Married to Richard Mason, 4/17/1827-9/17/1896. Mary Ann Fain was the granddaughter of Revolutionary War veteran Ebenezer Fain and daughter of John Samuel Fain and Elizabeth Butt.

1850 United States Federal Census about Richard Mason Name: Richard Mason
Age: 22
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1828
Birth Place: Virginia
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City, County, State): Division 1, Sullivan, Tennessee
Household Members: Name Age
Richard Mason 22
Mary A Mason 24 (born in TN)

1860 census: Richard Mason was 45 and was born in Burke Co NC.
His wife was born in Wilkes Co NC. He had eight children born in Cherokee Co., NC.

1880 census information

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
Richard MASON Self M Male W 53 NC Farmer NC NC
Mary A. MASON Wife M Female W 50 TN. Keeping House NC SC
Sarah L. MASON Dau S Female W 24 GA. At Home NC TN.
Laura A. MASON Dau S Female W 22 NC At Home NC TN.
Mary MASON Dau S Female W 19 NC At Home NC TN.
Rosetta C. MASON Dau S Female W 16 NC Attending School NC TN.
John MASON Son S Male W 14 GA. Works On Farm NC TN.
Julia C. MASON Dau S Female W 12 NC At Home NC TN.
Martha E. MASON Dau S Female W 10 NC At Home NC TN.
William C. MASON Son S Male W 8 NC NC TN.

Source Information:
Census Place Notala, Cherokee, North Carolina
Family History Library Film 1254958
NA Film Number T9-0958
Page Number 276C

Richard Mason was buried at Old Persimmon Creek Baptist Church Cemetery
Suit, NC., an almost forgotten cemetery located just inside the line for Nantahala National Forest in Cherokee county, NC. The cemetery is now hidden from view by tree and abundant undergrowth, but it is located off Highway #294 in the former Persimmon Creek Community east of Suit.

Looking for possible relatives of Richard Mason?
These were in Cherokee NC from 1840
Austin and Charles Mason (brothers) in Cherokee Co NC from 1840 until 1900.
These families lived near the Brasstown area next to the Alloway Strange family farm.
Austin’s descendents are buried in the Hickory Stand United Methodist Church.
1-? MASON (-)
sp: Priscilla UNKNOWN (1795-)

2-Charles Mason (1819-)
sp: Martha Ann DAIL (Mar 1829-)
3-William S. MASON (1857-bef 1870)
3-John A. MASON (1858-bef 1870)
3-George W. MASON (1859-bef 1870)
3-Margart Anna Mason (4 Sep 1862-19 Dec 1946)
3-Charles Leander “Bud” Mason (5 Aug 1864-5 Mar 1942)
3-Martha Jane Mason (1 Jul 1865-16 Dec 1962)
3-Josiah Mason (1868-bef 1880)
3-James A. MASON (14 Oct 1870-8 Dec 1945)
3-Clarissa Joanna Mason
2-Austin Mason (1815-)
sp: Cyntha BIRCHOT (1825-)
3-Mary Jane Mason (1842-)
3-William Mason (1845-)
3-Charles McDonald Mason (25 Jun 1847-)
3-George Benton Mason (10 Dec 1848-)
3-John Melvin Mason (25 Sep 1850-)
3-Daniel Ramseur Mason (29 Nov 1852-)
3-Sara Caroline Mason (7 Mar 1855-)
3-James Hawkins Mason (15 Mar 1860-)
3-Abraham Alonzo Mason (1 Sep 1862-)

Other information:

Austin Mason
Filed claim on 10-17-1871 for loses of 3 mules, 1 horse,
400 bushels of corn, 500 head of cabbage, 2 sheep, 3000
fence rails et. Property was taken 12-10-1863 by troops of Eli Long Union Cavalry in Cherokee Co NC. Witnesses were William Mason (son), and Charley M. Mason (brother). He claimed that he was 56 years old from 4-1-1860 to 6-1865 and that he lived on the farm of Alloway Strange, Brasstown Creek, Hiwassee River. Proof #8599 and #43681.

His oldest child was Jane Mason age 18. Austin may have had a brother named John.
John owned a farm on the Hiawassee River.

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Clan Info

These names are shown by the Clan MacDuff Society as linked to that clan.

If you are interested in clan membership, go to their site for further information.

Historically, the name Shearer is related to several other similar names:


Other clan links:

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Some Fain documents from the Civil War Era

Huldah Fain was the daughter of Ebenezer Fain and Elizabeth Roberts, granddaughter of David Fain and Rebecca Moore, great-granddaughter of Ebenezer Fain and Mary Mercer (Black).

Huldah Annie (Fain) Briant Papers, 1846-1888, Santa Luca (Gilmer County), Georgia.
The papers of Huldah A. Fain Briant feature courtship letters between Huldah and two Confederate Army soldiers, J. S. Slemmons and M. C. Briant, the latter of whom she married in 1864, to Slemmons’ consternation. The collection also includes letters of the Fain family and legal correspondence of Ebenezer Fain, Huldah A. Fain Briant’s father. The letters contain accounts of the Battle of Manassas, enthusiasm for the Confederacy in Texas, and refugee families from Georgia.
0056 Huldah Annie (Fain) Briant Papers, 1846-1888. 306 frames.
Major Topics: Diseases and disorders; Civil War; Confederate Army; war casualties;
courtship; education; farms and farmland.
Principal Correspondents: Ebenezer Fain; M. C. Briant; J. S. Slemmons; Stephen Lee;
J. M. Fain; A. G. Butts.

A Guide to the Micro film Edition of
Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Centuries:
Papers and Diaries Series H,
Holdings of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Huldah Fain Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Univ. of NC, Chapel Hill, NC.

Briant, Huldah Annie (Fain).  Papers, 1846 (1861-1865) 1888. 118 items. Santa Luca (Gilmer County), GA. Legal correspondence of Ebenezer Fain and war correspondence of his daughter, Huldah A. (Fain) Briant, chiefly from M.C. Briant, whom she married in 1864. Included also are letters from other members of the family. The letters contain accounts of the Battle of Manassas, 1861; enthusiasm for the confederacy in Texas; impressment of a local Jew’s merchandise for the army by women; and refugee families from Georgia.

Civil War diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain
Review and summary.

John N. Fain, ed. Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee. Voices of the Civil War Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004.

November 26, 1863 – March 6, 1898
East Tennessee State University
Archives of Appalachia
Box 70295
Johnson City, Tennessee 37614
Fains in the Confederate Armies. See

East Tennessee State University
Archives of Appalachia
Box 70295
Johnson City, TN 37614-0138

Col. Richard G. Fain and the Tennessee 63rd Infantry
Tennessee Genealogical Magazine
Vol. 34, No.1 Spring, 1987

Copied by Mr. Brooke July 1986
This cemetery is located in Polk County about 1 mile south of Ducktown, TN up a road
200 yards from the intersection of U.S. Hwy 64 and TN Hwy 68. There is evidence of
about a dozen scattered graves, all unmarked except the following:
(Front): WILLIAM C. FAIN Capt., GA Vols, U.S. Army May 10, 1825 – April 6, 1864
(Reverse): (Masonic Emblem) Clayton Fain was charter member of Cherokee Lodge No.
148 AF & AM in Murphy Dec. 8, 1852. He was shot and killed by John P. Gatewood,
Confederate guerilla at Pittman’s Ferry on Ocoee River, site of present L&N Station,
Cooperhill [sic] Apr. 6, 1864. His widow got pension by special Act of Congress.

Daniel E. Sutherland.  Guerrillas, Unionists, and violence on the Confederate home front.
University of Arkansas Press, 1999;  250 pages

Allen Marriages in Mecklenburg Co VA 1765-1810

From “The Marriage License Bonds of Mecklenburg County, Virginia from 1765 to 1810”, listed and indexed by Stratton Nottingham.
(“sec” = security, or surety)

ALLEN, Arva & Polly Clarke, 1 Aug 1786, Bolling Clarke sec.
ALLEN, Charles & Sarah Smith, dau Drury Smith, 20 Apr. 1781, David Royster sec.
ALLEN, Darling & Judith Nance, 9 May 1783, Robert Nance sec.
ALLEN, Ephraim & Patsey Skelton (Shelton), 13 Feb 1792, Thomas Allen sec.
ALLEN, Gray & Molley Nance, 16 Dec 1791, William Drumright sec. Notes from groom’s brother Darling Allen, wit. Stacy Drumright & bride’s father, Robert Nance, wit. Drury Allen.
ALLEN, James & Frances Conner, 13 Apr 1795, Burwell Russell sec.
ALLEN, John & Nancy Morgain, 15 Dec 1783, Frederick Rainey sec.
ALLEN, John, of Buckingham Co., & Elizabeth Bugg, 3 Oct 1791, Thomas Langley sec.
ALLEN, John & Patsey Cox, 14 Jan 1793, Thomas Cox sec.
ALLEN, John & Martha Colley, 12 Nov 1798, William Brown sec.
ALLEN, John & Constant Merriott, 3 Mar 1808, Thos. Merriott sec.
ALLEN, Jones & Nancy Lewis, 8 Jan 1810, Robert Lewis sec.
ALLEN, Mariday, son of William Allen, & Nancy Cooper, 9 Aug 1788, John Bailey sec.
ALLEN, Matthews & Mary Brawner, 8 May 1797, James Thompson sec.
ALLEN, Pleasant & Rebeccah Watson, 8 Aug 1787, John Allen sec.
Note signed Rebakah & William Allen, Senr.
ALLEN, Richard M. & Elizabeth B. Blacketter, 6 Nov 1809, David Blacketter sec.
ALLEN, Robert Jones & Caty Hollins, 1 Dec 1786, Thomas Richardson sec.
ALLEN, Ruel & Mary Pulliam, 13 Jan 1794, James Norment sec.
ALLEN Thomas & Lucy Adams, 13 Dec 1796, John Freeman sec.
ALLEN, Young & Sarah Poole, 27 Feb 1786, Darling Allen sec.
ADAMS, Richard & Sally ALLEN, 28 Oct 1808, Fielding Noel sec.
AVERETT, Thomas & Rebecca ALLEN, 13 July 1807, Joel Allen sec.
BAILEY, John & Anne ALLEN, 2 Mar 1791, Elisha Arnold sec.
HOLMES, Edards & Elizabeth ALLEN, 17 June 1797, James Jones sec.
MARTIN, James & Margaret ALLEN, 12 Mar 1800, John Puryear sec.
MARTIN, Oliver & Elizabeth ALLEN, 13 Mar 1799, Richard M. Allen sec.
RAGSDALE, Richard & Susanna ALLEN, 12 Nov 1792, Robert Harris sec.
ROBERTS, John & Leanner ALLEN, 21 May 1799, William Allen sec.
SHEARER, James & Nancy ALLEN, 13 Nov 1797, John Cox sec.
SPAIN, Abraham & Elizabeth ALLEN, 6 May 1795, Henderson Wade sec.
SPAIN, Daniel & Judith ALLEN, 18 Nov 1802, Abraham Spain sec.

Ohio Shearers

For excellent source of genealogical material on Ohio Shearers, see Full text of “Ancestors and descendants of David Paine and Abigail Shepard of Ludlow, Mass., 1463-1913”:

A letter from Patrick Shepard Shearer to his father

The following interesting letter was written by
Patrick Shepard Shearer (No. 132), to his father, Patrick
Shearer, in 1839, while the former was visiting his rela-
tives in Massachusetts:

Belchertown, July 6th, 1839.
Respected Father:

I take the present opportunity to inform you where

I am, and how I am getting along. After leaving Mr.

Beaman’s we went to Meadville, Pa., then to Jamestown,

N. Y., passed Angelica, crossed the Gennesa river, passed


Bath and Crooked lake, Senneca at Jefferson, passed
Ithica where there is a canal, railroad, and lake. These
lakes are from twenty to forty miles long and have steam
boats on them.

I went to Cooperstown on the Susquhanna river,
then to Chewy Valley, where we took the pike, then
went to Albany where we crossed the Hudson. Here
we saw the cars that run from Albany to Utica. This
is the greatest curiosity I ever saw. They had about
four hundred passengers, and run at the rate of twenty
miles an hour.

From here I went to Stockbridge, Mass., then to
Hartford, Conn., where we arrived on the twenty-
seventh of June, where I remained until the first of July
at Mr. Beaman’s. Then I went to Springfield, then to
Patsbridge, where I found Uncle King’s youngest daugh-
ter. I went the next day to the Three Rivers P. O.,
where I saw Uncle and Aunt King. Aunt’s health is
very delicate; they live with their two daughters who
married Barkers. I went next to Dr. Shearer’s, then to
Mr. Jenkse’s, also to Jedediah and Daniel Paine’s.
Daniel knew me some distance away. Independence
Day now comes in this country on the fourth of July, and
we held ours at Thorndyke. They had a band of
music and company of young ladies and gentlemen
dressed in uniform, and a dinner. Uncle Shaw was there,
but I did not see him. I saw cousin Shaw who married
Seneth Shaw.

Cousin Shepard Paine has the care of Daniel’s part,
and he says it is about eleven hundred dollars. Cousin
Shepard talked with Uncle Shaw, and told him I was in
the place. Uncle Shaw said he thought I could have
the money now if I would make a discount. Uncle
Joseph’s property sold for about one third value. His
silver plate and cups sold by the piece for one third of
what the silver smith paid second hand. I intended

seeing Uncle Shaw before I write, but fearing you would
be uneasy I write now. I have been at Uncle Jonathan’s
and am now at Uncle Lemuel Paine’s and expect to go to
Uncle Shaw’s in a few days.

I stood the journey very well except one bad cold.
It was very wet and cold a good part of the way. I rode
with my overcoat on from the sixteenth to the twentieth
of June and saw flocks of sheep not sheared as late as the
twenty-fourth. Crops are very backward in New York,
but look better here. Leonard Shearer is in the State’s
Prison at Boston, but not a criminal. He has charge of
the prison and a store in Boston that his brother tends.
My relatives appeared to be very glad to see me. Uncle
Shaw has some of your part collected now, but I don’t
know how much. I like this country very well, though
not as well as ours. I haven’t been homesick yet though
I intend to return as soon as I can get my money and
not before, if it can be got. A man can travel cheaper
in this country than in Ohio, although provisions cost

Tell Mr. Jenks his friends are all well in this country.
I should like to see you all when time brings it about
that we shall meet, but I should like to see Franklin now.
I have been through the factories, and saw the machinery
and its inmates. The machinery- is beyond what I expect-
ed. As soon as I see Uncle Shaw and know more about
your business, I will write again. Cattle are very high.
Cows are worth from forty to eighty dollars per head.
So no more at present.

Patrick S. Shearer.

Lemuel Paine, (Gen. VL No. Ill), b. Sept. 27,
1781, in Ludlow, Mass.; d. Feb. 7, 1867, at Princeton,
111.; m. to Elizabeth Morse, b. 1779; d. Sept. 17, 1860,
at Belchertown, Mass.

Residence: Belchertown, Mass.

Miscellaneous Shearer marriages

LEDFORD, A.B. 30 SHEARER, H.C. 16 21 Aug 1887 T.J. Martin, M. G., Clay CO NC.

Shearer, James Wiley
Birth : 7 JUL 1838 McDowell Co.,NC
Gender: Male
Spouse: Pendergrass, Martha Jane
Birth : 5 DEC 1842 Cherokee Co.,NC
Death : 1885
Gender: Female
Father: Pendergrass, John Finger
Mother: Reel, Lois Elmyra
Shearer, Caldona H.
Shearer, John H.
Birth : 1874 Hayesville,Clay Co.,NC
Gender: Male
Shearer, Anna Bell
Shearer, Laura Jane
Shearer, Lucy Ann

Mathew Shearer, Pioneer-Immigrant, Planter was born abt. 1684 in Armagh, Ulster Province, Ireland and died in 1770 on his Royal Land Grant, which at that time was in Lincoln County, North Carolina. He was married a second time, in all probability, abt. 1723 to Sarah (—–) who was born abt. 1704 in Ireland and died before November 25 – 1786 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. (Abstracts of minute of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Tryon County, North Carolina. Bulletin of the Genealogical Society of Old Tryon County, Issue No. 1, Page 14.)

Do you know the children of Matthew and Sarah?
His first wife was named Ann and they supposedly had about seven children, one of which was Hugh who died at Bullock Creek, York District, SC in Jul 1792.


Sarah Paine and Patrick Shearer

Authority for line of descent : Family Bible of David
Paine, now is possession of Mrs. J. B. Foraker.
Sarah Paine, (Gen. VI, No. 109), b. Sept. 22, 1778,
in Ludlow, Mass.; d. June 23, 1844, in Jackson Co.,
Ohio; m. March 14, 1805, in Ludlow, Mass., to Patrick
Shearer, b. March 30, 1775, in Mass.; d. Sept. 7, 1846,
in Jackson Co., Ohio.

Residences Ludlow, Mass., and Jackson County,

Authority: (Family Records contributed by Patrick
H. Shearer, No. 188.)

Patrick and Sarah (Paine) Shearer removed in 1813
from their home in Massachusetts to Jackson Co., Ohio,
in a covered wagon, and settled near her brother. Judge
David Paine.

Generation VIL

Children of Patrick and Sarah (Paine) Shearer.

128 Louisa, b. Feb. 1, 1806.

129 Melissa, b. June 9, 1808.

130 Almira, b. March 30, 1810.

131 Levi W., b. Dec. 1812.

132 Patrick Shepard, b. June 25, 1815.

133 Sarah, b. May 1, 1819.