This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in church registers of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, London and Hertfordshire, from the late 17th Century, is of English locational origin, and may be either a dialectal variant of a place in Northamptonshire called Armston or from a now lost village or hamlet called Armsden. The Northamptonshire placename, recorded as Mermeston in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as Armeston in the 1202 Assize Court Rolls of that county, is believed to be so called from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Earnmund, plus "tun", a settlement; hence, "Earnmund's settlement". On June 4th 1562, Agnes Armston, an infant, was christened in Thornton, Leicestershire. The prime cause of the "lost village" phenomenon was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century, along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348. On January 16th 1702, William Armsden and Isabella Dunck were married in St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, and on February 11th 1707, Deborah Armsden married a Richard Watts in Bow Brickhill, Buckinghamshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Armsden, (marriage to Sarah Chadd), which was dated November 3rd 1676, Salford, Bedfordshire, during the reign of King Charles 11, "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. 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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