Show ContentsSkilton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Skilton family

The surname Skilton was first found in Cumberland, at Skelton, a parish in the union of Penrith. There are no fewer that five villages or parishes so named throughout northern Britain. None have derived their name from the rather obvious use of the term "skeleton" today. Rather each literally meant "farmstead on a shelf or ledge," from the Viking word "scelf" + "tun." [1] Furthermore, many of the villages or parishes date back to the Domesday Book or shortly after: Scheltun, Cleveland (1086); Shelton, Cumbria (c. 1160); Schilton, Humber (1086); Schelton, North Yorkshire (1086); and Scelton, North Yorkshire (12 century.) [1] "The Skeltons of Cumberland date back to temp. Edward I." [2]

By the 11th century the family had acquired Armathwaite Castle in Cumberland, and later branched to Branthwaite and High House in that shire. "Armathwaite Castle [in Cumberland], a handsome modern edifice, built on the site of an ancient fortress, occupies a rocky elevation, at the foot of which flows the Eden; in the reign of Henry VIII. it was, with the estate, the property of John Skelton (c. 1463-1529), the poet-laureat. The chapel was rebuilt by Richard Skelton in 1668, having for some time previously been used as a shed for cattle." [3]

Another source claims the family was from Lincolnshire as "one of the first ministers of Salem, Massachusetts, Samuel Skelton, was a nonconforming minister of Lincolnshire." [4] We respectfully disagree with this latter source's claim as the lion's share of early records were from further north and this entry was from some four hundred years after the first entries.

The first record of the family was John de Skelton who was listed in the Early Yorkshire Charters (c. 1160-1193) Another John de Skelton was listed in the Feet of Fines for Yorkshire in 1286. [5] Almost one hundred years later, Willelmus de Skelton and Thomas de Skelton were listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [6]

The Skeldon variant is an interesting one. Apart from the obvious phonetic similarity, some sources merge the entries and others do not. Reaney and Wilson claim one of the first entries for this variant was John Skeldyng who was listed in the Register of Freemen of York in 1463. And in this case, the family originated in Skelding, a township in the parish of Ripon in the West Riding of Yorkshire. [5] All of the Skelding entries that we could find were some two hundred years after the first Skelton entries, so we presume that the Skelding variant is of later stock, particularly as this name too originates in the Yorkshire, Cumberland area of Britain.

As one would expect, the close proximity to Scotland could encourage some of the family to migrate there. Archibald Skeldin, was burgess of Edinburgh, 1569 and the family may have originated Skeldoun in Kyle-Regis. "It may otherwise be from Skeldon in Yorkshire or from Skeldon in Northumberland." [7]

Early History of the Skilton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Skilton research. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1632, 1617, 1460, 1529, 1512, 1641, 1696, 1672, 1674, 1691 and are included under the topic Early Skilton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Skilton Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Skelton, Skeldon and others.

Early Notables of the Skilton family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Skelton, also known as John Shelton (c.1460-1529), probably born in Diss, Norfolk, an English poet; John Skelton, High Sheriff of...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Skilton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Skilton family to Ireland

Some of the Skilton family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 91 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Skilton migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Skilton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabeth Skilton, who arrived in New England in 1711 [8]
Skilton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mary Skilton, aged 23, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1837 [8]

Australia Skilton migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Skilton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Skilton, English convict who was convicted in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Eden" on 27th August 1836, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]

New Zealand Skilton migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Skilton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Skilton, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857
  • Mr. John Skilton, (b. 1830), aged 28, British groom travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [10]
  • Mrs. Mary Ann Skilton, (b. 1830), aged 28, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [10]
  • Mr. Alfred Skilton, (Skelton) (1839 - 1882), English settler from Leatherhead, Surrey who was working aboard the ship "SS Rangitoto" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 21st May 1865, he stayed with the boat working until he settled with his family in the Kumara area.

Contemporary Notables of the name Skilton (post 1700) +

  • Charles Sanford Skilton (1868-1941), American composer, teacher and musicologist
  • Raymond Nelson Skilton (1889-1961), American professional ice hockey defenseman
  • Joel W. Skilton, American Republican politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Morris, 1902 [11]
  • James G. Skilton, American politician, First Selectman of Watertown, Connecticut, 1904-11 [11]
  • Ernest W. Skilton, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Morris; Elected 1920 [11]
  • Elton Skilton, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Connecticut, 1952 [11]
  • Edward Skilton (1863-1917), British Olympic sport shooter
  • Emmett Skilton (b. 1987), New Zealand based actor
  • Robert John "Bob" Skilton (b. 1938), Australian rules football player

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  8. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th October 2021). Retrieved from
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  11. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from on Facebook