This uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is found principally in the northern counties of England. It may be either a topographical or a locational surname; if the latter, it derives from a minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in Northumberland, near Bamburgh. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain since the 13th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced clearing of rural lands for sheep pasture from the 14th Century on. The place was named with the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "aesc", ash(tree), and "byht", bight, bend of a stream; thus "bend where ash trees grew". The place called Nesbit, in Doddington, Northumberland, also has "byht" as its second element. As a topographical surname, Aisbet(t) and its variant forms, Asbit(t), Hasbit(t), Hesbeth, Arsbut(t), Ashbit and Asebit, denote residence by or near such a "bight". Examples of the name from northern Church Registers include: the marriage of Jane Asbit and Richard Hevisid at Jarrow, Durham, on November 9th 1679; the christening of Thomas Arsbitt, on April 25th 1680, at Bamburgh, Northumberland; and the marriage of Joseph Aisbett and Rosamond Fenwick at All Saints, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on September 4th 1779. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sithe Arsbutt, which was dated October 21st 1619, witness at the christening of his son, Robert, at St. Mary Castlegate, York, Yorkshire, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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