This unusual English surname is recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Somerscales, Sommerscales, Summerscales and possibly Summersgill. The name is locational and almost certainly originates from a now 'lost' hamlet called Somerscales near Bolton Abbey, in the former West Riding of Yorkshire. The name has Norse antecedents being a development of the pre 7th century words 'sumar' meaning summer, and 'skali', a shelter or in this instance, possibly a sheltered area of uplands grazing. Bolton Abbey is by the River Wharfe which wends between the fells, and presumably Somerscales was nearby, but someway up them. The name is also interesting for providing an outpost of the Norse settlements from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Lancashire and Cumbria, whereas only five or six miles to the east, commenced the areas of Danish occupation centred on York. The first known recording is that of Robert de Somerscales in the nearby parish of Hazlewood in the year 1298, and a century later that of Johannes de Somerscales and his son Johannes de Somerscale, who seems to have been given an abreviated spelling, both in the Yorkshire Poll Tax register of 1379. Other interesting recordings include those of Thomas Prokter in the Lancashire Wills register of the year 1606. He is given as having been 'of Somerscall in Botton' (?), whilst in 1803 John Summersgill married Mary Phillips at St George's Chapel, Hanover Square, London. 'Summersgill' is considered by many researchers to be a variant form of Summerscale, although this is not proven, and it may itself be from a now 'lost' medieval village.
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