This unusual surname is of Scandinavian origin. It is derived from the Old Norse personal name 'Asketill' a compound of 'oss' 'ass' meaning god and 'ketill' meaning kettle, in other words a sacrificial cauldron. The name was also used in the contracted form Aeskil. Both forms were in common use both before and after the Conquest of 1066. The name 'Asketill' under Norse influence was also adopted by the Normans and introduced into England in the form Anquetil and its diminutive Anquetin. Early forms of the personal name are found as Aschill, Osketel and Anschil in the Domesday Book of 1066. Variant forms of the surname include Askell, Astell, Astill, Eskell, Haskell. In Suffolk church registers a marriage is recorded between John Haxall and Elizabeth Hayward on April 2nd 1611 at Glemsford. On July 5th 1666 Robert Hascell married Elizabeth Ambrose at Edwardstone, Suffolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Astill, witness, which was dated 1227, in the Bedfordshire Assize Rolls, 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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