Recorded in many forms including Ainslie, Ainsley, Annesley, Aynsley, Engley, Ingley, Ensley and Insley, this is a surname which can be either English or Scottish. However spelt it is locational, and originates from any of several places such as Ansley in Warwickshire, Annesley in Nottinghamshire, or from either of two now "lost" medieval villages one called Ansley in the county of Northumberland, the other probably called Hensley or Hensleigh in the county of Devonshire. The place in Warwickshire is recorded as "Hanslei" in the Domesday Book of 1086, from the Olde English word "ansetl", meaning a hermitage, with "leah", a wood or glade, whilst Annesley in Nottinghamshire is recorded in the Domesday Book as "Aneslei", and means "the solitary glade".This is from the Olde English word "an", or one, and this is probably a meaning which applies to the other villages. The surname is first recorded in Scotland with early recordings including those of Thomas de Aneslei in Glasgow in 1221; Johan de Anesleye of Roxburghshire in 1296; and in England, John de Annesley of York in the same year. Early examples of surname recordings taken from surviving church registers of Deveonshire include: Thomas Hensley of North Molton, on August 16th 1557, Nicholai Ingly, at Ashburton, on March 12th 1624, and John Engley, who was christened at the same place, on March 27th 1732. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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