This famous Scottish surname is locational and originates from the town of Selkirk. Recorded in the surname spellings of Selcraig, Selkrig and the more popular Selkirk, it is one of the earliest of Scottish hereditary surnames. Locational surnames in general were given either to the local lord of the manor and his descendants, or they were assumed by former inhabiants of the particular place who moved elsewhere. This was an easy method of identification, particularly at a time when personal movement was at best restricted. The nameholders seem to have follwoed the second path being recorded in both Edinburgh and Glasgow from earliest times. These recordings include examples such as Hugh de Selkryk who was a burgess of Edinburgh in 1368, whilst Peter de Selkirk, who may have been related, is recorded as having property there in 1400. Jone Selkerg was recorded in Galsgow in 1513, and William Selkrigg was a brewer in Glasgow in 1580. Probably the most famous Selkirk was Alexander Selkirk, the son of John Selkirk, a shoemaker of Largo. He was a privateer who fell foul of his captain and was 'marooned' on Juan Fernandez island off South America in 1704. Rescued in 1709, he was the 'model' for Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Selghkirk, which was dated 1291, rendered homage to the government of Scotland, during the reign of known as 'The first interregnum government', 1290 - 1292. 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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