This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational surname from the place in Northumberland near Mitford called Espley. The placename appears as "Espeley" in the Northumberland Book of Fees of 1242, and is recorded as "Aspele" in the 1252 Pipe Rolls of the county. The name is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aespe", aspen (tree), with "leah", thin wood, copse, glade, hence "the aspen wood". Locational surnames were acquired by the lord of the manor, and local landowners, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the christening of George, son of William Espley, on June 26th 1625, at Prees, Shropshire; the marriage of Joane Espley and Rondle Mullin on April 25th 1637, at Mucklestone, Staffordshire; and the marriage of Thomas Espley and Katherine Wood on May 30th 1745, at Manchester Cathedral, Lancashire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Aspley, which was dated June 30th 1571, marriage to Alis Grennell or Greuuell, at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "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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