This interesting surname has two distinct possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be a locational name from Skirwith in Cumberland, which was recorded as "Skirewit" in the 1205 Feet of Fines, and derives from a Scandinavianized form of the Olde English pre 7th Century "scirwudu", composed of the elements "scir", shire, district, and "wudu", wood; hence, "wood belonging to the shire". The Old Scandinavian "vithr" is equivalent to the Olde English "wudu". Skirwith was formerly pronounced Skerritt. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Secondly, the surname may derive from the Middle English "skirwhit(e)", apparently an alteration by popular etymology of the Old French "eschervis", a variant of "carvi", caraway, a species of water parsnip formerly much cultivated in Europe. The surname would therefore have been a metonymic occupational name for a grower of white parsnip. Alice Skyrewhit is noted in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Surrey. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Scarratt, Skerratt, Skerrett, Skerritt, Skirrett and Scarrott. Recordings from Church Registers include the christenings of John Skerritt on October 18th 1612, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Hustis Skerritt, on August 7th 1663, at St. Peter's, Paul's Wharf. The family Coat of Arms is a gold shield with a black chief indented. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Eudo de Skirwint, which was dated 1285, in the "Calendar of Inquisitiones post mortem of Cumberland", 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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