- surname recorded from 1248, and means "a spearman." This was a common type of English surname, e.g. Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332). Shake in the sense of "to brandish or flourish (a weapon)" is attested from late Old English
Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge.
[Laymon, "Brut," c. 1205]
"Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks -- Shakespear" [Bardsley, "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," 1901]. Nevertheless, speculation flourishes.