This uncommon name, found chiefly in Yorkshire and the northern counties of England, is of Anglo-Saxon or Old Scandinavian origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be a locational surname from one of the minor places in Yorkshire called, for example, Hesselgreae or Hezzlegreave (in Saddleworth), and Hazelgrove, in Rishworth. These placenames are derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "haesel", hazel, and "graf", grove, or "graefe", thicket, or the cognate Old Norse "hesli", hazel, and "gryfja", hole, pit, valley.The surname may also be topographical in origin, denoting someone who lived by a "hazel-grove", or in a "hazel-valley", derived from the same elements. Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere, and topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname has developed a great variety of forms, as illustrated by the following examples: Heslegreve (1574, Yorkshire); Hesselgrave (1578, Lincolnshire); Hassillgrave (1589, ibid.); Hasslegreave (1606, Yorkshire); and Husselgrave (1636, Nottinghamshire). Recordings from Church Registers include: the marriage of Edward Haslegrave and Joan Totty in Aberford, Yorkshire, on October 18th 1607, and the christening of Elizabeth Haslegrave on December 14th 1606, in South Hykeham, Lincolnshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Hasilgref, which was dated 1297, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", 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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