Skeel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Skeel is a name that was carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Skeel family lived in Hertfordshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Scalers, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. [1]

In allusion to the earlier "Escaliers," the seal of Hugh de Scales, attached to a grant of some churches to Lewes Priory, shows an armed man, putting his right foot on the step of a ladder, and with his hands resting upon it, as in the act of climbing. [2]

Its origin is apparently not Norman, as it is not found in the Duchy till the time of Philip Augustus. It was probably derived from Acquitaine, where the Viscounts of Scales had been of importance since the time of Charles Martel, c. 730, at which epoch they had a grant of the ruined Abbey of Tulle and its estates. These were restored to the church by Aldemar, Viscount of Scales, 930. Gausbert, his brother, was ancestor of the family of Scales, which continued at Limoges, 1201. Harduin de Scallers or de Scallariis (probably one of this family), had extensive grants in Herts and Cambridge 1066, and he and his posterity also held three knight's fees in Yorkshire by gift of Alan, Earl of Richmond." [1]

Early Origins of the Skeel family

The surname Skeel was first found in Hertfordshire. Hardwin de Scalers landed with William the Conqueror and was ancestor of the noble family of Eschalers, or Scales. The name was frequently spelt De Scales about the time of Henry III. [3]

Soon after 1086, Earl Alan granted Smeaton, part of his demesne near Richmond, to Harduin's son Malger; and in the time of Stephen, Turgis Fitz Malger was a benefactor of Fountains Abbey ; his son William de Scalers confirmmg his giftsHugh de Scalers, the contemporary, and perchance the near kinsman of the latter, founded a baronial family of high estate and ample possessions. "Their castle at Middleton, near Lynn, in Norfolk, was a magnificent building; and though now in ruins, yet they bespeak the dignity and power of the founder, and the difference between ancient and modern nobility." [2]

Hugh's barony included Whaddon in Cambridgeshire (held by Harduin at the Conquest); with Berkhempstead in Essex, and he transmitted in all fifteen knight's fees to his descendants. The line is regularly traced to his great-grandson Geoffrey, the successor of an elder brother who had died on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1220. [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list the following early spellings of the family: Dionise Schayl in Cambridgeshire; Philip Schayl in Huntingdonshire; and Walter Schayl in Oxfordshire. [4]

Sir Robert de Scales, was Lord of the Manors of Bedenested and Scolegh in Essex, Parva Willington in Kent and Lynne, Middelton and Ilsington in Norfolk (1232-1233.) [5]

Lord Robert de Scales (died 1304) was a Knight Templar and loyal supporter of Edward I in his campaigns in Wales, Scotland, France and Flanders. [6]

Thomas de Scales, 7th Lord Scales (ca. 1399-1460), was younger son of Robert, 5th Lord Scales. "Like his brother, he took an active part in the French wars. In 1422 he went over to France with a company of men, for whom he contracted to receive regular wages, and from that time onwards he served under John, Duke of Bedford." [6]

Early History of the Skeel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Skeel research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1290, 1372, 1402, 1399 and 1401 are included under the topic Early Skeel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Skeel Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Skeel include Scale, Scales, Scalers and others.

Early Notables of the Skeel family (pre 1700)

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Skeel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Skeel family to Ireland

Some of the Skeel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Skeel family

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Skeels to arrive on North American shores: Joseph Scale who settled in Maryland in 1684; William Scale settled in Virginia in 1656; George Scales settled in Virginia in 1636; John Scales settled in Virginia in 1631.


Contemporary Notables of the name Skeel (post 1700) +

  • Richard Skeel, American college administrator and baseball coach
  • Ira Skeel, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Cortland County, 1849 [7]
  • Caroline Anne James Skeel (1872-1951), British historian, professor of history at Westfield College, eponym of Skeel Library
  • Burt E. Skeel (1894-1924), United States Air Force and civilian pilot


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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