This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from a number of places similarly named. These include: Astle, in Cheshire, which means "the eastern hill", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "(e)ast", east, and "hyll", hill, and places called Astley in Lancashire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. These places are variously recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Hesleie" and "Estleia", and the name means "the east wood", derived from the Olde English "(e)ast", as before, and "leah", wood or clearing; hence, "the east wood or clearing". The surname may also have originated from the Old Norse personal name "Asketill", composed of the elements "oss" or "ass", meaning god, and "ketill", a kettle or sacrificial cauldron. 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. In the modern idiom, the surname has many spelling variations, including: Astle, Astell and Astill. Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Agnes Astill on June 25th 1564, at St. Mary at Hill. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Astell, which was dated circa 1225, in "Episcopal Records of Lichfield", Staffordshire, 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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