This unusual surname, recorded as Skittrall, Skittrell, Skitral, Scottrell, Skitteral, Skitterel, and Skittreal, is locational. As a surname it is late medieval English, but the original derivation may owe something to the pre 7th century Danish-Viking 'Skied-halh'. This translates literally as 'the place of the race course', and probably described the stables at such a place. Despite their reputation as sea warriors, the Vikings were highly competent horsemen, and 'horse sports' played a major part in their leisure activities.Their management of cavalry was proved by their overland march from Scandinavia to what is now Normandy, - the region of the North Men, in the 10th century, when they destroyed all opposing forces. However as no modern site such as 'Skitt(e)ral' or similar exists, we are forced to conclude that it is one of the five thousand or so 'lost' medieval sites, of which the only reminder today is the surname. The wide variety of spellings is also a consequence of a 'lost' site, as there is no longer a spelling key. Although this is not proven, London and Wiltshire would seem to be the epi-centre of the name, it being well recorded in both places from the 16th century. These recordings include Katherine Skiterell who married William Large at the church of St Lawrence Poultney on February 28th 1593, and Edward Skittrell, who married Elizabeth Marriott, at Rushington, Wiltshire, on April 4th 1689. Other recordings include Henry Skiterel, a witness at Holborn Lying in Hospital on March 6th 1766, the same man being recorded as Henry Skittrall at the same hospital on November 10th 1768, and perhaps the first in that spelling variation. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Scottrell, which was dated May 14th 1565, who married at St Gregorys by St Pauls, 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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