The famous Victorian etymologist Canon C W Bardsley indicated that this name was both residential and locational with some surname holders descended from the village of Achurch in the county of Northamptonshire. In the 1086 Domesday Book the village is shown as 'Asechirce', which does not mean 'at the church' but 'Asa's church', with 'Asa' being a tribal personal that still survives. Modern research indicates that the phrase 'atte church' was occupational and described one who worked at the church, rather than somebody who lived near by. Medieval villages grouped themselves around the church as a matter of course, it could have been said that everybodys 'postal' address was 'atte church'. The rarity of the surname proves that it had a more specific meaning. Early examples of the surname recording include Emma ate Cherch of Oxford, in the 1273 Hundred Rolls, Robert atte Chyrche of Norfolk, also in the 1273 Rolls, whilst John Attecherch was the rector of Merton in Norfolk, also in the same year of 1273. Later examples showing the marvellous variety of spelling usually associated with the prominent dialects of the late medieval period, are those of William Attechirche of County Norfolk in the twenty ninth year of the reign of King Edward 1st (1302), whilst 'Agnes, wyff to Pall Atkyrke' is recorded in the Yorkshire Visitation of the year 1520, in the reign of KIng Henry V111 (1510 -1547). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert ate Church, which was dated 1273, the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as '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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