This interesting surname, with variant spellings Mescall, Meskal, Miskill, Miskela, Miskle, etc., is a shortened form of MacScally, itself an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Scalaidh", composed of the elements "mac" meaning son of plus "scolaide", a crier i.e. one whose duty it was to announce important forthcoming events, or "scolaire" a student. The surname is first recorded in the early 12th Century (see below). One Meskell, appears in a Justiciary Roll of 1313 dealing with Co. Limerick. The surname is practically confined to north Ulster, and is mainly found in Co. Antrim. Recordings of the surname from the Irish Church Registers include; Henry Miskelly, who married Mary McWilliam, on February 12th 1814, at Templepatrick Church, Co. Antrim; Mary Ellen, daughter of James Miskelly, who was christened on April 24th 1822, at Ballymoney Parish, Co. Antrim; Mary Miskelly, who married Robert Beck, on March 21st 1824, at Kircubbin Presbyterian, Co. Down; and Hugh Miskelly, who married Mary Cameron, on August 29th 1826, at St. Annes Church, Belfast, Co. Antrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O'Scolaidhe, which was dated circa 1100, in the "Ancient Records of Westmeath", during the reign of High Kings of Ireland "with opposition", 1022 - 1166. 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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