Recorded as Skill, Skille, and sometimes Skillman, this is an English surname of great antiquity. According to the late Professor Reaney, regarded as the foremost authority on English surnames, it is not only rare, but the name actually seems to mean what it says. He claims that it does derive from the word "skill," a pre 8th century word, and that it does describe a skilled man. We are a little sceptical because in the medieval times words relating to "skills" were specific to a particular skill as for instance a tailor or a fletcher or whatever, but there is no listing for "skill". For instance there are over one thousand "skills" associated with being what we call a smith, although according to the famous Guilds listings of those ancient times, there is no such trade as smith. People were designated as for example blacksmith, a worker in cold metal, whitesmith one who worked in hot metal, greensmith for copper, and arrowsmiths who made arrow heads! Smiths may well have been soldiers or local "police", and who wore armour. In this case with Skill or Skillman we believe from records that it may refer to a person who was developing skills, and specifically in the kitchen, a skill being sort of halfway to being a qualified cook. Early recordings include John Skylman in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1275, and William Skille in the Hundred Rolls of Oxford, slightly later in 1279.
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