Recorded in the spellings of Skillen, Skillin, Skilling, Skillern, and others, this unusual and interesting name is Anglo-Irish, but of Norse-Viking pre 9th century origins. Although first recorded in England the surname is now most numerous in County Down, Ireland, where it was amongst the early 'planters' sent from England to occupy Ulster. In ancient times the name was baptismal and a developed form of 'scela' meaning summer. It was probably given to somebody born on Mid Summers Day or a feast day which commemorated summer. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic church registers recordings of the period include Jane Skillen who married William Harrison at the famous church of St Mary-Le-Bone, London on April 4th 1683, Janet Skillern who married William Geddes at Santfield, County Down, Ireland, on April 12th 1742, and William Skillings who married Sarah Taylor on April 13th 1737 at St. Martins in the Field, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Elizabeth Skelinge, which was dated January 21st 1582, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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