This is a locational surname, which is of Olde English origins. It derives from the villages recorded originally in the Domesday Book as "Winesleg" in Wiltshire or "Winesleia" in Derbyshire, although both are now spelt as "Winsley". The name is believed to translate as "Wines Farm", with wine being either a personal name which developed from "Winn" meaning white, or literally a place where wine was grown. It is known that for many centuries after the Roman Invasion of 55 A.D. Vineyards were established as far north as York, so this is a probable explanation. The surname developed as a result of misfortune. In the 15th century the tenants of the villages lost their common grazing rights through the Enclosure Acts, and as a result were usually forced to seek employment elsewhere. They took (or were given) as their surname, that of their former village. This system lead to variant spellings such as Wensley. Examples of the recordings include William Winsley of Bushley, Worcestershire on July 18th 1669 and John Wensley, at All Saints, Worcester on August 5th 1798, in the reign of George 111 (1760-1820). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Winsley, which was dated June 18th 1582, who married Edward Churche at St. Swithins, Worcester, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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