This ancient and interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a nickname for a sharp, quick, smart person, deriving from the Middle English "scharp", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "scearp" meaning keen, active, quick.
As a surname Sharpe is found recorded all over the British Isles with great frequency, as would be expected of a soubriquet likely to be handed down as being complimentary. The surname dates back to the early 11th Century (see below). Early recordings include Ailmer Scharp (1184) in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire, and Alan Sharp (1296) in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, London. Church Records list the marriages of Danis Sharp to Joane Paynter on the February 12th 1564 at Harrow on the HIll, and Ambrose Sharpe to Elizabeth Neele on March 26th 1585 at St. Katherine by the Tower. One Mary Sharpe, an emigrant to the New World, was granted a ticket to sail from the Barbados aboard the "Recovery" bound for Jamaica on December 31st 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Healethegn Scearpa, which was dated 1026, in the "Olde English Bynames of Kent", during the reign of King Canute, 1016 - 1035.
Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
For example: Our family name, Sharpe, was Anglicised by my father Sidney, who changed it from Sharfstein when he enlisted in the army in WWII. Except for brother Joe, all other family retained the name Sharfstein.