This interesting surname is of Cornish origin, and is a locational name from an estate in the parish of St. Keverne, so called from the Cornish "ros", moor, heath, with "kelly", grove, copse. Locational names, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially to those former inhabitants who left their place of origin to live and work in another area. In his "Patronymica Britannica", M. A. Lower states that the above estate was anciently the residence of the Roskilly family. The majority of Cornish surnames are locational in origin, and some that appear to be topographical may in fact derive from lost or unrecorded placenames. Cornish naming practices are unfortunately poorly documented for the Middle Ages, but do not follow the predominantly patronymic pattern of other Celtic languages including Welsh. The surname, with variant spellings Roskeilly, Roskelly, Rosekilly and Roskelley, is well recorded in Church Registers of Cornwall and southern English counties from the late 16th Century. On November 7th 1619 Rose Roskilly and Henry Thomas were married in St. Keverne, and on November 24th 1645 Henry Roskilly and Elizabeth Pascow were married in the same parish. The christening of Reginald, son of James and Jane Roskilly, took place in Topsham, Devonshire, on July 12th 1732. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Roskillie, which was dated March 11th 1598, witness at the christening of his son, Ewryn, at St. Keverne, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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