Recorded in several spellings including Opensaw, Opensha, Openshae, Openshaw, Oppenshaw, and possibly others, this is an English and Lancashire surname. It is locational from OPenshaw, formerly a village but now a district of the city of Manchester. It was first recorded as Opinschawe in the Calendar of Inquisitiones Post Mortem, for the county in 1282. The derivation is from the pre 7th century words "open" and "sceaga", and means the open land by a wood. During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name from its original source. Early examples of the surname include Robert Opinshawe of Suffolk, who is mentioned in the Register of Oxford University for 1575, whilst Lambert Openshaw of Aynsworth is recorded in the Wills Register of Chester in 1607, and John Openshawe in the church register of St. James Clerkenwell, in the city of London, in 1611. Another early recording is shown to be that of Samuel Openshawe. This was dated 1558, in the Calendar of Pleadings, ajnd possibly in the reign of Queen Mary 1st of England and known to history as "Bloody Mary" 1554 - 1558. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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