Recorded as Scot, usually Scott and sometimes the patronymic Scotson, this famous surname has an unusual origin. Although widespread in Scotland and most of England from the medieval period, it actually derives from the Old English pre 7th century word "scotti". This in former times denoted not a Scotsman, but an Irishman, and specifically a Gael, one who had taken part in conquering the west coast of Scotland in or about the 5th century a.d! In the English border counties though the word or name had a more general meaning of anybody from Scotland. Given the warlike conditions which applied for many centuries and may so again, the name was not always complimentary. Early examples of the recordings include: Uchtred filius Scot, in the register of Kelso Abbey in 1120, when he witnessed the foundation charter of the town of Selkirk, whilst in his work "Scotland under her early Kings", Robertson notes "Scotus as such described a Gael, in the same way that Flandrensis meant a Fleming". Amongst the nobilty of Scotland, Richard le Scot of Murthoxton, who rendered homage in 1296 to the government of Scotland, was the first ancestor of the ducal house of Buccleuch and Queensberry. Scotson or Skotson may well be first recorded in England, although we have not been able to prove this beyond all doubt. What we do know is that one Lawr Skotson was a christening witness at St Mary Abchurch, in the city of London, on December 20th 1561. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Roger Scot. This was dated 1150, in the documents relating to the Danelaw for the county of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135 - 1154. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax.
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