This very interesting surname has at least two possible origins. It is definately English, and almost certainly for most name holders is locational. As such it originates from a place called Snelston in the county of Derbyshire, a place which is known to have given rise to a medieval family called Snelston or Snelson. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th century personal name Snell meaning "active" and tun, - a farm or settlement. Locational surnames were either given to the local lord of the manor and his or sometimes her, descendants as may well be the case here, or to former inhabitants who moved away to some other place. 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 indifferent often lead to the development of variant forms. The spelling as Snelson may also be a patronymic, and derive from the Olde English (nick)name Snel, itself from the even older Norse-Viking Snjallr meaning "brisk" or "smart". An early example of the surname is that of Benedict Snelson, of Little Budworth, Cheshire, and recorded in the Wills records at Chester in the year 1606. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Snelleston. This was dated 1369, in the Historical Documents of East Cheshire, during the reign of King Edward IIIrd of England, 1327 - 1377. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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