This unusual surname is German and medieval. It is locational, and describes a former inhabitant of the town of Essel, in the state of Hannover, Germany. Recorded in its native land in many spelling forms including Asel, Assel, Esel, Essel, Esselen, Ezele and Ezzle, it is now also recorded in the USA as Essell and Ezzell. The origination is probably from an ancient pre 7th century personal name "Esla", which formed the basis of a number of place names both in Germany and England. Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. The easiest form of identification was, and often remains so, to call people by the name of the country or place, from which they came. Given that local accents even one hundred years ago were very 'thick', and education often limited to speech only, this arbitrary form of identification can lead to the considerable variance in spelling, as in this name. Nethertheless we do have some quite early examples of the surname recording in the different spellings. These are taken from authentic German state rolls and registers of the period and include Hans Assel, christened at Goldlauter, Sachwaton, in January 2nd 1653, Georg Ezele, who married Margaretha Langenstein, at Euzweihingen, Neckarkreis, on October 28th 1794, and Johan Ezzele, who married Katharina Keulens, at the same place, on June 6th 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Conrad Asselen, which was dated 1340, in the charters of the city of Lubeck, Germany, during the reign of Emperor Louis 1V of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1314 - 1347.
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