This surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is either a topographical name for someone who lived near a prominent ash tree, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "oesc" meaning "ash", or it may be a locational name from some minor place so named. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages, and locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The name dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and further recordings include: John de le Es in the 1273 Subsidy Rolls of Norfolk; Ralph de Asche in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex; and Joan atte-Eshe in the 1345 Subsidy Rolls of Norfolk. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include: Ash, Ashe, Aysh, Asch, Asche, Aish and Esh, Esch and Esche. Katherine Ash married John Ryce at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, on October 4th 1601. Christopher Ash, an early emigrant to the New World was resident in Virginia in 1622, and John Ash (1723 - 1798) was the first physician of the General Hospital Birmingham and held various posts in the Colleges of Physicians. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard del Eshe, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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