This interesting name of medieval English origin is numerous in Devon, and is either a dialectal variant of the locational name 'Ashford', from the places so called in Devon, or perhaps from a so called 'lost' place, likely to have been in Devon. Ashford was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Aisseford' and West Ashford as 'Westesford' in the 1242, Fees, and the derivation of Ashelford is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'aesc', an ash tree, with 'ford', a ford (over a river, probably where ash trees grew). The phenomenon of the 'lost' village was generally a result of enforced land clearance to make way for sheep pasture in the 12th and 13th Centuries, as well as plague, war, etc. Among the early recordings in Devon are the christenings of Christopher Ashelford on October 22nd 1565 and of Alice Ashelford on March 3rd 1570, both at Uffculme. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald de Asford, which was dated 1221, Assize Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, 'The Frenchman', 1216-1272. 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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