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It is highly probable that all the males who share one of the related surnames originate from a single ancestor (i.e. the name is monogenetic). The name relates to a former hamlet 4 miles west of Blackburn in Lancashire called Shorrock Green (there was also a nearby place called Shorrock Hey). The name probably comes from Old English 'scora' = bank + 'ac' = oak.

In the 1881 Census nearly all the UK name holders (about 2,200 in total) were strongly focused on Lancashire. It seems that the variants may also be monogenetic in that they broke away from the parent name 'Shorrock' (1,480 people in 1881) one by one with specific ancestors being associated with each name. In 1881, the main localities and numbers were:

Shorrock (1,480) Blackburn,Preston,Haslingden
Sharrock (938) Wigan, Ormskirk, Bolton, Liverpool
Shorrocks (395) Bolton, Chorlton, Salford, Manchester
Sharrocks (352) Rochdale

The study will build friendship and kinship while exploring the inter-relationships between the family groups (including Shurrocks and other possible variants). In 1881 in the UK the Shurrocks group were heavily focused on Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

One hypothesis is that the 's' (to 'Shorrocks') developed as the Shorrock family moved south into the territory in SE Lancashire of another well-known Lancashire name the Horrocks's.

Another possible insight concerns the likelihood that Sharrock is much more common in the USA than the other variants - quite probably because this is the form held by those who were closest to the Port of Liverpool - and hence opportunities to migrate to the USA through New York.

UPDATE - 27th October 2009

Origins of the Name

There are possible explanations for multiple points of origin for the name in central / north Lancashire.

As Keith explains:

‘When I first started to research the name, I came across a reference to it being related to Sharoe Green - this was a hamlet that is now part of metropolitan Preston. Ekwall's 'The Placenames of Lancashire' has this name as derived from 'scaru' (boundary), 'haugr' (hill) and mentions a reference to 'Charaudhoke', near Fulwood.

On the other hand, Ekwall derives Shorrock Green from 'the oak of Scorra' with Scorra being an Anglo-Saxon personal name, and cross-references a place called Scorranstone in Gloucestershire.

So it may simply be that we have multiple families because there were multiple placenames.’

New test subject John Shorrock from Feniscowles has also raised the possibility that the original family was Norman and that Shorrock Green was named after the original estate holder – rather than the other way around. It is possible to propose a reasonable derivation for a Norman French name [‘c(h)auf’ (bald) ‘roc(he)’ (rock), i.e. compare the attested name ‘Chaumont’] but so far we have no supporting evidence.