Recorded in several forms including Ainslie, Ainsley, Aynsley and Insley, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. However spelt it is locational, and originates from any of several places such as Ansley in Warwickshire, Annesley in Nottinghamshire, or from a now "lost" place in the county of Northumberland called Ansley. In the county of Warwickshire it 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. Annesley in Nottinghamshire is recorded in the Domesday Book as "Aneslei", and means "the solitary glade", from the Olde English word "an", or one. 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 include: Anthony Aynsley who married Catharine Steventon at Moulsoe, Buckinghamshire, on July 29th 1632, whilst Mary Insley, the daughter of Thomas Insley was christened at St Ann's Blackfriars, in the city of London, on December 5th 1658. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Anslee. He was the canon of Glasgow, in the year 1220, and is recorded in the "Register of the Monastery of Passelet", during the reign of Alexander 11, King of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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