Axe is a locational surname which is of Olde English, pre 10th century origins. It derives from the Ancient British word for a river "Isca" which predates the Roman Invasion of 55 a.d., through the later "aesce" to the medieval "exe or axe." In effect the surname describes one who lived by the Axe Rivers in Somerset or Dorset. The Somerset river is first recorded in the Saxon Chronicles of 712 as the Aesce, the first recording as"Axe" being at the Taunton Assize Courts of 1244, in the reign of Henry 111 (1216 - 1272).However this did not refer to a surname, merely to people who had caused a disturbance at the "Axe." The first church recordings are as shown below, however it is possible that earlier recordings may exist on as yet unpublished charters or land rolls. Examples of the early recordings include Thomas Axe who married Alce Spragott at the village of Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset, on October 20th 1592, whilst on September 9th 1605, John Axe married Ursula Dymond at Martock. The name is also recorded in London, the earliest example being William Axe who married Debora Dudley at the church of St Lawarence Jewry, on November 2nd 1626. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnis Axe, which was dated January 19th 1559, who married Thomas Andrewe at North Petherton, Somerset, 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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