This interesting surname recorded as Hammersley, and Hammerslie, is of Old English origins. It derives from some now 'lost' medieval village believed to have been in Staffordshire, and probably known as "Hamela's leia" or similar This translates as 'the clearing (leah) of Hamela' or possibly 'an area cleared for agriculture on a (hamm) hill'. There are known to be at least five thousand British surnames which derive from places whose only memory lies in the existence of the surname, and Hammersley is a good example.The surname is first recorded in London in the late 16th century, and slightly later it would seem in Stafford. This suggests that the original 'hamlet' was forcibly cleared under the Enclosure Acts, when most tenants lost their ancient grazing rights, and were forced to more elsewhere. When they did, they were given as easy identification, the name of their former home, and this may well have substituted for any previous surname. Examples of the name recording taken from the early registers include Anne Hammerslie, the daughter of Hugh, the first named below, at the church of St Olave's, Hart Street, London on November 1st 1599, and Dorcas, the second daughter of Hugh, but now recorded as 'Hew Hamersley', at St Antholin's, Budge Row, London, on June 1st 1609. Walter Hamersley of Hamersley, was recorded in the register of students at Oxford University on September 15th 1610. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Hammersley, which was dated November 12th 1598, a witness at St Olaves church, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 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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