This interesting surname is a Northern English locational name derived from the names of villages situated in Cumberland and Yorkshire. The name Skelton derives from the pre 7th Century Old English "scylf" meaning shelf and "tun" meaning enclosure or settlement, probably referring to dwellings on a bank. In the form "Scilton" the place name occurs in the Domesday Book for Yorkshire (1086). Yorkshire charters show the place name Skelton as "Sheltone" (circa 1160). As a surname Skelton had emerged by the middle of the 12th Century (see below). A John Skelton is found recorded in the "feet of fines" for Essex (1410). Variant forms of the surname have included Skilton, found chiefly in the North of England and in Yorkshire. A number of famous Skeltons have included John Skelton (1460 - 1529) a poet and nature of Norfolk, and Sir John Skelton (1831 - 1897) an author who wrote under the pseudonym of "Shirley". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hamo de Skelton, which was dated 1160, in the Early Yorkshire Charter Lists, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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