This interesting and unusual surname is of Scottish locational origin from the barony of Esslemont, near Ellon in East Aberdeenshire, which is also the site of Esslemont House and the remains of Esslemont Castle. The placename appears in Scottish records as "Essilmounthe" in 1609, and is apparently of Anglo-Saxon/Old French derivation, that is, it is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "hesel", hazel, and the Old French "mont", a mountain, hill. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming common, people often took their former village or hamlet name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname Esslemont, which appears to have been chiefly associated with Aberdeenshire, is also found as Esilmon, Esslement and Eslemont. Early recordings in Aberdeenshire Church Registers include: George, son of George Eslement, who was christened on March 30th 1678, at Monquhitter; the christening of Anna, daughter of John Esslemont, on November 21st 1689, at Methlick; and the marriage of John Eslement and Issobel Clerk, on July 19th 1690, at New Machar. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Eslemont, which was dated September 8th 1672, a christening witness, at Strichen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. 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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