This very interesting surname is of medieval Northern English origin, and is particularly associated with the county of Yorkshire. It is residential, and as such originally described a person who lived at a place called Scholey or who was a shepherd or cowherd, and who lived at a 'skali'. This was a house or perhaps a temporary dwelling, used mainly during the summer months on the high pastures and grazing lands. 'Skali' is a pre 7th century Norse-Viking word, which can in some instances mean a clearing in a wood. Perhaps not surprisingly residential surnames were amongst the earliest to be created, the easiest means of identification in ancient times being to call a person by the name of the place where they lived or from where they came. Amongst the early recordings of the name in Yorkshire are those of Robert Scholey, who married Margaret Schillito on March 3rd 1550, at Hemsworth near Wakefield, whilst Martyn Scoley was christened at Royston in 1563, and Thomas Scholaye at the parish church of St. Peter's, Leeds, in 1580. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Scolay. This was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Returns for Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard IInd of England, 1377 - 1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "dvelop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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