Recorded in an amazing range of spellings including Esay, Essee, Essay, Essea, Essie, Ezzy, Hesey, Hessay, Hessey, Hissie, and Hizzy, this is usually an English surname. When this is the case the origination is from the village of Hessay, five miles north of the city of York, and first recorded as 'Hedesdai' in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. The name means 'the lake where hazel trees grow', from the Norse-Viking 'hesli-saer' of the pre 8th century. The region north of York was much fought over for many centuries, and even after the Vikings were conquered in the 11th century, for the next five hundred years, their place as marauders was taken by the Scots. Even as late at the reign of Elizabeth 1st (1558 - 1603) they regularly carried out raids to the very gates of the city. Not surprisingly many inhabitants of the region, some of them then called 'Hessay', moved south, where some at least, settled in Berkshire and London. The combination of thick local accents and erratic spelling lead to the development of the many variant surname spellings we find today. There is also a further complication with this surname. It is known that at the end of the 16th century, French Huguenot refugees recorded in England in the spelling of 'Esay', but more probably formerly 'Eze', came to London. An example is that of Pierre Esay, at the Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, city of London, on June 9th 1609.How much impact they had on the name we do not know. Early examples taken from surviving charters and church registers include John de Hesey of Cambridge, in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1273, Sewal de Hessay, given as being a freeman of the city of York, in 1293, Arthur Hessey, a witness at St Giles Cripplegate, London, on June 9th 1609, and Elizabeth Hyzzy at Hinton Waldrish, Berkshire on April 10th 1678.
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