This interesting and most unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be a phonetic form of the placename Abbots Leigh, in Somerset, which was recorded simply as "Lege" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and in the Assize Rolls of 1243 as "Legh of the Abbot of St. Augustin". However, the name may also be of locational origin from some minor or unrecorded place called "Y(e)absley", which is believed to have been located in Devonshire, as the surname is well recorded in the 16th and 17th Centuries, in Church Registers of that county.Early examples of the surname recorded in Devonshire include the christening of Maria, daughter of Philip and Katharine Yabsley on July 31st 1558, at Ugborough; the marriage of Robert Yeabsley and Jane Pridius, which occurred on February 1st 1575, at Brixham; and the marriage of William Yeabsley to Anstise Wills on October 29th 1604, at Coffinswell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip Yabsley, which was dated November 18th 1548, marriage to Katherine Light, at Ugborough, Devonshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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