Recorded in a many spelling forms including Anley, Anelay. Ansley, Aniley, and the usual Anneslie or Annesley, this is an English locational surname of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins. It originates from the parish of Annesley, south west of Mansfield, on the border of Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. Recorded as "Aneslei" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Aneslea" in the 1175 Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire, the place was so called from the personal name "An", meaning "one", and "leah", a clearing in a wood; hence, "An's leah", the "s" being introduced to aid pronunciation. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Notable bearers of this name include: Sir Francis Annesley, Baron Mountnorris and first Viscount Valentia (1585 - 1660); and Arthur Annesley, , who was created Earl of Anglesey in 1661. The name in its various spellings is also popular in the province of Munster, Ireland, being "introduced" there by settlers from Nottinghamshire in 1606. Examples of the variant spelling recordings include Frances Analay of St James church, Clerkenwell, London, in 1657, and Elizabeth Anelay, christened at St Olaves church, Southwark, on January 4th 1767. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Sir John de Annesley, dated 1307, in the "Medieval Records of Nottinghamshire". This was during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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