This unusual and interesting name is of Norse-Viking pre 7th 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. There are several spelling forms including Skilling and the patronymic Skillings.Early examples of the name recordings include Jane Skillen who married William Harrison at the famous church of St Mary-Le-Bone, London on April 4th 1683, Janet Skillen 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. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is silver, two chevrons in red, on a red chief three bezants (gold coins). The crest being a greyhound courant in gold, collared and lined black. The motto: Marte et arte translating as: By valour and skill. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown 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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