This interesting surname, with the variant Eccersley, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been in the parish of Leigh, near Wigan, in Lancashire, and is so called from the genitive case of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Ecgheard" (from the Germanic given name "Eckhardt", composed of the elements "agi(n)", edge, point, and "hard", hardy, brave, strong), and the Olde English "leah", wood, clearing. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of Richard Eckersley on February 10th 1576, at Leigh, Lancashire; the marriage of William Eckersley and Ellen Geste on July 25th 1593, in the same place; and the christening of Mary, daughter of George Eckersley, in January 1682, at Badworth, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Ecclesleye, which was dated 1301, in the "Early Medieval Records of Yorkshire", 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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