Recorded in many forms as shown below, this surname is English. It is locational from a now "lost" village or hamlet in Devonshire, believed to have been situated in the Barnstaple area, because of the great quantity of early recordings of the name in local parish registers. An estimated seven thousand villages and hamlets in Britain are known to have disappeared since the 15th Century, owing to agricultural clearances and such natural disasters as the Black Death of 1348, during which an eighth of the population perished.The placename was probably composed of the Old English pre 7th century personal name "Puda", used as a nickname for a stout person, with "leah", a clearing in a wood used for faming, hence "Pydda's farm". Locational surnames were dispersed around the country as former inhabitants migrated using their village name as a means of identification, and this often produced a wide variety of name forms owing to regional and dialectal differences. This surname can be found as Pydslue, Puggslegh, Pugsley, Pughsley, Pogesle, Pougeslye, and Pidgesley, all in Devonshire. As an example Jackett, the daughter of John Pugsley, was christened at Shirwell, Devonshire, on September 1st 1542. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Pideneslegh. This was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls" of devonshire, during the reign of Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as 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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