This famous Yorkshire name is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place in West Yorkshire called Pickersgill, or "Robber's Ravine". The placename is derived from the Middle English "pyker", thief, robber, and "gill", gully, ravine, deep glen. Locational surnames were acquired particularly by those former inhabitants of a place who moved to another area, usually in search of work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional and dialectal differences, and equally differing standards of literacy among clerks often gave rise to many variant forms of the original name. In this instance, there are a bewildering number of early spellings of the name; these include: Pickersgild (1551); Piccarsgill (1577); and Pyckyrsgyll (1577). One Francis, of Ripon, had his surname spelt successively Peckarstalles (1579); Pykarscales (1580); Pyckarsgill (1583); and Pyckersgill (1590). Recordings from Yorkshire Church Registers include those of the marriage of Frances (sic) Pickersgill and Jenet Popplewell, on November 4th 1571, in Birstall, and the christening of Alexander, son of Richard Pickersgill, at St. Peter's, Leeds, on June 27th 1589. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts, on a silver shield, three black eagles, wings elevated, on a red chief as many fountains. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Piccardesgill, which was dated October 28th 1549, witness to the christening of his son, Richard, in Halifax, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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