This unusual and interesting name, of Anglo-Saxon origin, and recorded as Ashfold and Ashfull, is an early topographical surname denoting someone who lived, in the first instance, by a fold near an ash tree. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aesc", ash (tree), with "falod", fold, also used to mean "enclosure for deer". Although the first element of the name, "aesc", is a fairly common component of medieval English topographical and locational names, the second, "falod", is comparatively rare. It is found alone as a placename in Fauld, a place in Staffordshire, and as the second element in such places as Chiddingfold, Dorfold and Dunsfold. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided obvious and convenient distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The name is particularly well recorded in Sussex Church Registers from the mid 16th Century on: Thomas Ashfold witnessed the christening of his daughter, Joane, on February 26th 1559 in Wivelsfield, and Richard Ashfold married Mary Whitinge, in Horsham, on January 19th 1567. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Asshefold, which was dated 1305, in the "Feet of Fines of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "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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