This ancient and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional surname from either of two places: Ashdown in Berkshire, until the 18th Century the name of the Berkshire Downs, and Ashdown Forest in Sussex. The place in Berkshire is recorded very early, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 648, as "Aescesdun", and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Assedone", and means "Aesc's hill", derived from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name "Aesc", from "aesc", spear, with "dun", down, low hill.The place in Sussex Pipe Rolls of 1165, and means "hill overgrown with ash trees", derived from the Old English "aesc(en)", ash-tree, with "dun" as before. The marriage of George Ashdowne and Agneta Smithe was recorded on July 19th 1568 at Edmonton in London, and one Thomas Ashdown was christened at Westfield in Sussex on February 14th 1682. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Assedon, which was dated 1273, The London Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, "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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