This unusual name, found chiefly in Devonshire, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in the Hatherleigh, Okehampton and Crediton area of the county, because of the incidence of early recordings there. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, owing to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the effects of the various Enclosures Acts since the 15th Century.The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Baetti, Betti", of now somewhat obscure origin, with "hyll", hill; the placenames Bettiscombe, in Dorset, and Battisford, in Suffolk, also have this personal name as their first element. The modern forms of the surname range from Battershall, Battershell and Battershill, to Battishall, Battishell and Battishill. The Calendar of State Papers (Domestic) contains a reference to one Antony Luther, who claimed "the lease of the Manor of Battylshall" in 1582. Among the recordings of the name in Church Registers is that of the marriage of William Battershall and Anne Waters on March 17th 1708, at St. Thomas', Portsmouth, in Hampshire. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family name depicts a silver cross crosslet saltireways between four silver owls on a blue shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Batteshol, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Devonshire", 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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