This surname, with variant spellings Ascroft(e) and Ascraft, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "oesc" meaning "ash", plus "croft", a paddock or arable enclosure, and was originally given either as a topographical name to one resident in an enclosure where ash trees grew, or as a locational name from any of the places named with the above elements. These places include Ashcroft, south of Wentworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and Ashcroft, near Duraley in Gloucestershire. The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 13th Century (see below), and recordings from English Church Registers include: the christening of Alice Ascrofte, an infant, on March 7th 1591, in Wigan, Lancashire, and the marriage of Elnor Ascraft and John Chaplen on April 18th 1607, in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. In October 1635, John Ashcroft(e), aged 33 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "Constance" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in the New World Colonies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Margaret de Asecroft, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.