Recorded as Hensley, Henslie, Hinsley, and Henzley, there are several possible origins for this Anglo-Scottish surname. It is certainly locational and may be a development of Annesley, a place in Nottinghamshire, which was recorded as Aneslei in the Domesday Book of 1086, and from where several nameholders seem to have gone to the royal court of Scotland. This placename was composed of the Old English personal name "An" meaning one, and the second element of "leah", meaning a settlement. Secondly it could be from Henley, villages found in Surrey and Shropshire. These appeared as "Haneleu" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and mean the wood frequented by wild birds. Thirdly it could originate from a now 'lost' medieval village called Henslie in Devonshire, and today known as Henslie Castle. Early examples of the surname recording are believed to include Magister Thomas de Aneslei who in 1221 was appointed to settle a dispute between the monks of Kelso and the bishop of Glasgow in Scotland. Later recordings taken from surviving church registers include Mary Hensley who was married to John Walter at St Margarets, Westminster, on January 6th 1592, whilst her sister Jone, but now recorded as Hinsley, married John Harwood at the same church, on January 9th 1594. Another interesting recording which looks foreign, but all records suggest simply results from poor spelling, is that of Willam Albert Hentzliea, a christening witness at St Matthews Bethnal Green, London, on May 9th 1813. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Hanesley. This was dated 1208, in the register known as the Liber Collegii nostre domine ecclesie, for Scotland, during the reign of King William, known as the lion of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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