Recorded in the spellings of Henshall, Henshaw, Hensher, Hencher, Hinchshaw and the very rare Hindshaw, this is an English locational surname. It originates from either village of Henshaw, situated on the River Tyne in the county of Northumberland, or from a now "lost" hamlet which has been absorbed by the small town of Prestbury in Cheshire. The village names and hence the later surnames, translates from the Old English "hethin-shaghe" as "the wood by the heath". However there is a body of opinion who consider that "Hethin" was a personal name, to give "Hethin's wood".This may well be so, but the meaning is effectively the same, as "Hethin" itself means "The heath". Most pre 7th century personal names owe something to the natural surroundings, because like the later surnames, one of the easiest ways to identify a person, was by their place of residence. What is certain is that there are some very early surname recordings from both counties and these include Richard de Henneshagh of East Cheshire in 1365, Agnes de Henshall in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls for the city of York, and Edward Henshawe of Henshawe, Cheshire, in 1579. Church recordings include Agnes Hanshawe who married Robert Coldwell on May 1st 1547, at St. Mary le Bow, London, Anne Hinshaw, who married Thomas Mitton at St Peters, Liverpool, on November 17th 1816, and William Hindshaw, who married Ellen Walker at Manchester Cathedral on June 8th 1871. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter de Henschal, which was dated 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Cumberland, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "the father of the navy", 1327 - 1377.
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