This interesting and unusual name is of Old Norse origin, and is a locational surname from a place so called in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The earliest recording of this placename is in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Ascrid", and in 1201 in the Feet of Fines of that county as "Ascwith". The placename is derived from the Old Norse "ask-vithe", translating as "ash-wood". 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, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. In the modern idiom the variants in common usage are Askwith and Asquith, but in 1297, in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, Adam de Askequid is recorded; one of the earlier variants. Early recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Edward Asknitz and Helen Robert on November 19th 1594, and the marriage of Ann Askmith and Leonard Atkinson on January 12th 1612, both in Leeds. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ulf' de Askmith, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", 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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