Recorded in several spellings including Ramsdale, Ramsdell, Ramsell, Ramsail, and no doubt others, this is an English surname. It is locational and probably originates from the village of Ramsdale recorded in the pipe rolls of the county of Hampshire in the year 1170. This place with the elements 'hramsa-dael' describes, not as may be thought, a valley of sheep, but a valley of wild garlic! Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their original home and settled elsewhere. This is and was, an easy method of identification, which is used even in the 20th century as a nickname. Early examples of recordings taken from early surviving church registers include those of Susan Ramsdell who married Richard Haydock at Ringwood, in Hampshire, on January 22nd 1606, and Margaret Ramsdaile, christened at St Andrews Undershaft, London, on July 31st 1611. Other recordings are those of Hester Ramsell who married William Hobbs on May 11th 1684 at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, and Thomas Ramsdale, a witness at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, London, on April 27th 1766. 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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