This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from either of two places. Firstly, it may be from the southern English county of "Hampshire", recorded as "Hamtunscir" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (755), which derives from "Hamtun", the old name of Southampton, composed of the Olde English elements "ham", low-lying meadow on a stream, with "tun", an enclosure, and the Olde English "scir", a division, istrict. It may also be from "Hallamshire" in South Yorkshire, recorded as "Hallun" in the Domesday Book of 1086, which derives from "hallum", the dative plural of the Olde English "h(e)all", a rock, stone, with "scir", a division, region. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and can also be found as Hampshire, Hamshere, Hamshar, Hamsher and Hampshaw. John Hamshaw is listed in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York (1506). Recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include; William Hamshaw, who married Ann Rothwell on November 30th 1588 at Darrington; Hugo, son of Willmi Hamshaw, who was christened on May 12th 1589 at the same place; and John, son of Anthonie Hamshaw, who was christened on January 7th 1599 at Snaith. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Hamptessire, which was dated 1296, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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