This ancient and interesting name is of Old Germanic origin, from a personal name composed of the elements "ans", god, and "helm", protection, helmet. The name was associated particularly with the northern, Lombardy, region of Italy, and was popular throughout that country as Anselm. The given name was introduced into England by St. Anselm (1033 - 1109), Archbishop of Canterbury, who was a Lombard by birth, and although it was never popular with the English, the personal name generated a variety of surnames, ranging from Ansell, Anshell and Ansill, to Hansel(l), Hansill and Hancell, and the diminutive form Anslyn.The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and the development includes: Roger Aunsel (1271, Staffordshire); William Ansel (1279, Cambridgeshire); and William Hansell (1495, Yorkshire). The marriage of Thomas Ansell and Gwynne Jones was recorded at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, on May 16th 1588. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Petrus Anselmus, which was dated 1192, in the "Pipe Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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