This interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called "Rashleigh" near Wernworthy in Devonshire. The placename derives from a contraction of the Middle English "atterash", at the ash (tree), with "leye, lye", a clearing in a wood, glade or this wood, a development of the Old English pre 7th Century term "leah". The first recording of the surname, below, shows the original spelling of the placename, before the preposition "atte" was dropped to form "Rashleigh" or "Rashley", the modern surnames.The development of the name in Devonshire includes: John Rastheley (1539), Baldwyn Rasheley (1553), John Rashlye (1583), and Gyles Rayshley (1589). Alice Rashleigh was christened in West Down, Devon, on January 4th 1634, and the marriage of William Rashleigh and Agnes Gaunt was recorded at Teignmouth, Devon, on February 9th 1666. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John atte Rashlegh, which was dated 1292, Calendar of Inquisitions, Devonshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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