This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been in the Lancashire-Staffordshire area, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. The derivation of the placename is perhaps from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Aeschelm" (composed of the elements "aesc", ash, spear, and "helm", protection, helmet), and "holh", hollow, depression; hence, "hollow where Aeschelm lived". In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Ashmoll, Assmall and Asmnall, to Astmall, Ashmole and Asmoll. The marriage of Thomas Ashmole and Anne Bowyer took place at St. Mary's, Lichfield, Staffordshire, on July 28th 1578, and Alice, daughter of Thomas Ashmole, was christened on July 11th 1613, at Tamworth, Staffordshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a shield divided in quarter black and gold, in the chief dexter quarter a gold fleur-de-lis, the Crest being a black greyhound courant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Asmoll, which was dated July 2nd 1541, christened at Aughton by Ormskirk, Lancashire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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.