Recorded as Rawnsley and the dialectal Ransley, this is an English surname. It is locational from a place called Rawnsley, a hamlet near Cannock in the county of Staffordshire. Locational surnames were usually "from" names. That is to say names given as easy identification to people after they left their original homesteads to move somewhere else. Over the centuries spelling being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of "sounds like" names. In this case it is said that the local pronunciation of the name is Ransley, thereby giving rise to another form.The place name is believed to mean "Reed marsh farm" from the Olde English pre 7th century "rauor mersc leah" or similar, although there are a number of possible interpretations. The earliest known example of the surname spelling shows how far people were prepared to move with Ralph de Ravenleg appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Bedford in 1273, and Margaret de Rauenslave in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst Mary Ransley, given as being a widow, was buried at St Michael's Cornhill, in the city of London in 1749.
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