The surname of KELSAY was a locational name 'of Kelsey' two parishes in North and South Kelsey, County Lincolnshire and of Kilshaw, a township in the parish of Tarvin, County Chester. The earliest of the name recorded appears to be KELLESHALLE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. KELESHALE (without surname) appears in Lincolnshire in 1297. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Almost every city, town or village existing in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. Where a man lived was his means of identification. When a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known, and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or birthplace, or by the name of the land which he owned. Other records of the name mention Brice de Kelesye, County Lincolnshire, 1273. Edward Kelsey of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Peter de Keleseve, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name mention John Kelsow who was buried at Prestbury Church, County Cheshire in the year 1561, and James Kelsow and Blaunch Broke were married at the same church in 1563. William Kelsea and Isabell Imme were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in the year 1574. Thomas Kelsey and Maria Thomas were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1795. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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