This surname is a rare English example of a locational name which describes ownership of a particular village. The name combines origins which are Norse-Viking pre 9th Century and medieval English with the Norman-French style of address. The origin of the surname Skaife (also recorded as Scaife or Scafe) is Norse, and descends from "skeifr", through the Middle English "skafe", and was literally the original description given by the Norse invaders to a Yorkshireman, a tyke, a difficult and fierce person. The village of Ingerthorpe (population 48) is situated near Ripon and recorded in the Rolls of 1162 as "Ingeridtorp", the farm of Ingrid, presumably a lady of some stature locally. This village would seem to be the epicentre of the surname, although in the 20th Century most recordings are to be found in Nidderdale and the Vale of York. A Coat of Arms granted in circa 1540 was blue, a chevron between three wolves' heads, charged with trefoils slipped. The published recordings include: Jannetta Skaff (as spelt) who married Richard Shepheard (as spelt) at Ripon Cathedral, on August 11th 1577, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 1558 - 1603. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Skayf of Ripon, which was dated 1273, in "The Hundred Rolls of the County of York", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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