This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name form one of three places. The first two places are named Elmley, one in Kent, recorded in the Charter Rolls as "Elmele" in 1275, and another in Worcestershire, registered as "Aemeleia" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name is a compound of the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "elm" meaning elm, and "leah" a wood. It may also be from Helmsley, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, recorded as "Hamelsec" in the Domesday Book, and derived from the personal name "Helm" and "leah", a wood. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is mainly found in Scotland, especially in the Aberdeen region, as in the first recording in the late 13th Century (see below). On June 29th 1572, the marriage of Anna Emsley and Edmund Smyth took place at the Church of St. Andrew's, Enfield, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a green shield with a silver eagle displayed, the Crest being a thistle leaved proper. The Motto "Prenez garde" translates as "Take care". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Elmeley, which was dated 1296, rendered homage in Aberdeenshire, during the reign of King John Balliol, King of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. 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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