The place name and English surname Ramsdale are both likely derived from Ramsons, being a widespread colloquial name for wild garlic (Allium ursinum), the likely derivation of which is: the Anglo Saxon word hramsa meaning rank - the butter and milk of cows which have eaten Ramsons is said to be bitter (rank). Where leaves are used as fodder, cows that have fed on Ramsons give milk that tastes slightly of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th century Switzerland. In the Swiss Neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier (Cortaillod culture) there is a high concentration of pollen from Allium ursinum in the settlement layer, interpreted as evidence for the use of Allium ursinum as fodder. Old English hramsa dael meaning "wild garlic valley".
Alternatively, the surname Ramsdale derives directly from the Norse place-name Raumsdalr (the valley of the river Rauma in the counties of Oppland and Møre og Romsdal in Norway - modern: Romsdal) an eponym after "Raum the Old", son of King Nor, legendary founder of Norway who may have been descendants of the ancient Gothic "Raumii" tribe.
The actual derivation of the surname will likely only be discovered through improved Y-DNA testing of males of the Ramsdale surname to determine their paternal line.
Sourced from: Ramsdale.org
This is a locational surname of Olde English pre 7th century origins. Recorded in the spellings of Ramsdale, Ramsdell, Ramsdaile, it probably derives from the village of 'Ramesdala' recorded in the pipe rolls of the county of Hampshire in the year 1170. This place whose elements 'hramsa-dael' describe, not as may be thought a valley of sheep, but in fact a valley of wild garlic!
However one of the curiosities of the surname is that the early recordings in Hampshire itself seem to be in the spelling of 'Ramsdell', whilst the more obvious 'Ramsdale' seems to be first found in London. We can only assume that in London the clerks or clerics of the registers must have assumed that 'Ramsdale' was a more logical spelling than 'Ramsdell', which indeed it probably is.
Locational surnames were usually given to people as their surname, after they left their original home and settled elsewhere. This is and was an easy method of identification, which is often used even in the 20th century as a nickname.
Early recordings include Susan Ramsdell who married Richard Haydock at Ringwood, Hampshire on January 22nd 1606, and Margaret Ramsdaile, christened at St Andrews Undershaft, London, on July 31st 1611.
Other recordings are those of Hester Ramsdell who married William Hobbs on May 11th 1684 at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, and Thomas Ramsdale, a witness at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, London, on April 27th 1766. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Ramsdell, which was dated February 5th 1596, married at Ringwood, Hampshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603.
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.
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