The surname of ASHLEY was a locational name 'of Ashley' parishes in Canterbury, County Chester, Winchester and County Oxford. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. In the middle ages it was customary for a man to be named after the village where he held his land: this name identified his whole family and followed him wherever he moved. It could have been his place of birth, or the name of his land-holding. Early records of the name mention Robert de Aslegh, 1272 County Devon. Robert de Ashley was documented in the year 1281 in Warwickshire. Edward Asheleye of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard Reeve married Ann Ashley at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1741. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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