This interesting and most unusual surname is of English locational origin from a place "Emsden", believed to have been located in either Suffolk or Essex. This village was probably one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets which have disappeared from maps in Britain. 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 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The placename was composed of the old English personal name "Amma" and the second element "denn", woodland pasture. William Amsden married Elizabeth Richardson at St. Botolph Bishopsgate, London on October 7th 1583, while Elinor, daughter of William Amsdon, here also on July 26th 1584. Joan Smith married John Emsden at Great Baxted, Essex in 1608. One Johanna Emsden married Williamus Paule on May 1st 1610 at St. Marys, Bocking, Essex. The only Cambridge recording is for one Francis Amsden who married Sarah Hawkins at Chatteris on June 29th 1687. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Amston, which was dated 1564, November 15th christening witness at St. Mary Stratford, Suffolk, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "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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