This unusual name appears to have evolved from two different sources. As a topographical name, the first element 'lash' derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'laecc' meaning stream; the second element 'ly' comes from Olde English 'leah' a term for naturally clear, open space (glade) or meadow. The location, Latchly in Devon gives us the place name Lashley, which would have described someone 'who dwelt in or near' the place. This name does not appear as a surname until late in the 17th Century, when it first appeared as 'Lashleigh' (see below). In 1698 one Deborah Lashly married Robert Wind on April 17th at St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devon and Ann Lashley was christened on February 28th 1796 at Dameral Stoke, Devon. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Lashleigh (married), which was dated June 6th, 1687, Plymouth, Devon, during the reign of King James II, The Last Catholic King, 1685 - 1688. 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.