This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Bowscale near Mungrisdale in Cumberland. The placename is recorded in the "Inquisitiones Post Mortem" of 1486 as "Bowscalez", and is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "boga", bow, a short form of the name of the local bow-shaped hill, Bow Fell, with the Old Norse "skali", hut, shed, temporary building", which in Middle English developed into "scale". Locational surnames were acquired by the lord of the manor, and local landowners, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional dialectal differences and varying standards of literacy subsequently gave rise to variant forms of the original name; in this instance the modern surname forms range from Bowscale, Bowskell and Bowskill, to Bouscall, Bouskell and Bouskill. Among the recordings of the name from Church Registers are those of the marriage of Isabell Bowskill and Thomas Clarck at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, on February 9th 1614, and the christening of Mary, daughter of John Bowskill, on November 12th 1685, at Askham in Westmoreland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Bouskell, which was dated September 23rd 1545, marriage to Jenet Cornewath, at Kirkby, Lonsdale, Westmoreland, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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.
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