This is an English medieval surname. Recorded in several spellings all quite rare and including Eslan, Eslin, Eslon, Esland, Island, and Izeland, it may be of Norse-Viking pre 7th century origins from the word 'eslon' meaning an island, and hence would have described an islander. It may also be locational from any of the several places called Island in the British Isles such as the village of Island in the county of Berkshire, or Island in Gloucestershire, Island on Lock Lomond in Scotland, or from the parish of Island in County Cork, Ireland, or even from the country of Ireland itself. All describe either a place surrounded by water, or possibly in some cases from a plateau which was raised above the surrounding countryside. Locational surnames were usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they had left their original 'home' to move somewhere else. The easiest way to identify such 'strangers' was to call them by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic and local accents very thick, often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. In this case Alice Island appears in the church registers of St Margarets Westminster, on November 28th 1581, and James Esland at St Brides Fleet Street, on October 28th 1606.
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