This interesting surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, as a locational name from "Anstey", the name of places in Devonshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Wiltshire, which were recorded as "Anestige, Anstigan, Hanstige, Anestige, Anstige and Anestige", respectively, in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placename itself derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "anstiga", a narrow footpath, especially one up a hill, and all these Ansteys are generally on hills or hill slopes. However, the name may also be of Old Germanic origin, as a locational name from Anstedt in Germany, which means "town by a swamp". Early examples both in England and Germany include: the marriage of Ane Anstede and Roger More on January 28th 1559, at St. Dunstan's in the East, London; the christening of Hanss, son of Johannen Anstet, on November 19th 1561, at Annweiler, Pfalz, Bayern; and the marriage of Mary Anstead and Henry Valentine on January 7th 1638, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. A Coat of Arms depicting a shield divided into gold and silver with a red fesse nebulee, was granted to an Anstead family. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lorentz and Ottilia Anstett, which was dated April 4th 1558, christening witnesses at Annweiler, Pfalz, Bayern, during the reign of Emperor Ferdinland 1, Holy Roman Emperor, 1558 - 1564. 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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