This most intriguing name is of Old French and Middle English origin, and is found particularly in the West Midland and Welsh border counties in a variety of forms. It is an occupational surname, deriving in the first instance from the Middle English "skirme(n)", to fight, but ultimately from the Old French "eskirmir, eskermir", to fence, fencing-master. The same root has given the surname Scrimgeour, from the Old French "eskermisseo(u)r", fencer. Fencing masters could always find employment in medieval England, although they were officially banned from the City of London because of their dangerous influence, in fact they were legally denominated as rogues and vagabonds, and classed with "stage-players, bearwards, gipsies and other undesirable characters". The modern forms of the surname range from Skym(e) and Skyrme, to Skim, Skerm and Skurm. Examples from various Church Registers include: Susan Skerme (1563, Lincolnshire); Beatriche Skymes (1572, Shropshire); Henry Skeam (1615, Yorkshire); the marriage of William Skym and Margaritt Wardell in London, on January 26th 1631; and the marriage of Edmond Skyme and Hester Crumpe in Lugwardine, Herefordshire, on February 7th 1701. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Skirme, which was dated December 30th 1552, witness to the christening of his son, Niccoles, at Lugwardine, Herefordshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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