This very uncommon surname, recorded in the north western English counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, is a variant of the more familiar Ashenhurst, itself a locational name from the ancient country manor of Ashenhurst Hall, south east of Leek in Staffordshire. The component elements of the placename are the Olde English pre 7th Century adjective "aescen", "of ash", or "overgrown with ash trees", and "hyrst", translating variously as "hill, wood" or "wooded hill"; hence, "ash wood" or, "hill overgrown with ash trees". Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Regional and dialectal influences subsequently gave rise to several variations on the original spelling of the name, which is now found in English Church Registers as Ashenhurst, Ashinhurst, Ashtenhirst, Ashtenhurst and Ashtonhurst. On January 15th 1648, Ralph, son of John Ashtenhirst, was christened at All Saints, Wakefield, Yorkshire, and on September 9th 1697, the christening of Isaac, son of Randuleph Ashtonhurst, took place at Manchester, Lancashire. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name depicts on a gold shield a cockatrice, tail nowed with a serpent's head sable; comb, wattles and head red, in the beak a green trefoil, the Crest being a cockatrice as in the Arms. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Ashenhurst, which was dated September 2nd 1583, marriage to Marie Brereton, at Ipstones, Staffordshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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