This most interesting and rare surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has three possible interpretations, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aeps, aespe", Middle English "apse", aspen. The Scottish placename "Esbie", is composed of this element, plus the Olde English "by", settlement, village; hence, "the hamlet by the aspen tree", and Espie may therefore be a locational surname from this source. However, the name may also be of topographical origin, given to a dweller by an aspen tree, or occasionally was probably a nickname for a timorous person, with reference to the trembling leaves of the tree. Variants of the surname include Espie, Esby, Espy and Aspey, and early recordings include the following: George Espey, born in 1623, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland; Hugh, son of George Espey, christened in 1647, in Edinburgh; James Espie, who married Jean Hamilton on May 14th 1705, also in Edinburgh; and Samuel Espy, who married Ann Montgomery at the Church of St. George, Hanover Street, London, on June 6th 1745. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Apse, which was dated circa 1307, in "Medieval Records", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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