Recorded in the spellings of Scarce and occasionally Scarse, this is an English surname. It would seem however to derive from the Olde Norse-Viking pre 7th century 'scarfs', meaning a vicious seabird and specifically a cormorant. Quite why anybody should be called 'cormorant' can only be left to the imagination, except that the medieval period when surnames were generally formed, was one of extremely robust humour, with little time for sensibilities. It can also be assumed that it would no doubt be regarded as complimentary to be called 'cormorant', whatever the implications. Another possible origin for the surname is locational, from a small group of island called 'the Scares', on the Solway Firth. However there is no indication in any known record, of these islands producing such a surname. Another possibility is that the name originates from a now 'lost' medieval village of which the only reminder in the 20th century is the surviving surname. Early examples of trhe surname recording taken from surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Mary Scarce at St John's Clerkenwell on August 4th 1622, and Henry William Scarce, the son of John and Matilda Scarce, christened at St Thomas's Finsbury, on June 7th 1863.
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