This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the several places thus called, for example Ashford in Devon, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Kent and Middlesex. The last mentioned, recorded as "Ecelesford" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, dated 969 A.D., derives its first element from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Eccel" (from "ecg", a sword), plus the Olde English "ford", a ford; hence, "Eccels ford". Ashford in Kent, recorded as "Esselesford" in the 1046 Wills Records of that county, is so named from the Olde English "aesc-sceat" meaning "ash-copse".The others get their name from the Olde English "aesc", ash, plus "ford", a ford. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th Century (see below), and an early recording was that of Ambrose Ashford, who was convicted of being a Monmouth rebel in 1685 and transported to the Barbados as a slave. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald de Asford, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "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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