This is an English surname, but one of Old French pre 10th century and even much earlier Roman origins. Recorded as Parsly, Parcely, Parsloe, Parslow, Paslow, Pashley, and others, it derives from the medieval fused phrase "passelewe", itself originally from the Latin word "passare" meaning to pass or cross, and the French l'ewe", meaning 'the water'. It is arguably an occupational nickname for either a merchant who travelled overseas, or possibly someone who had been on a pilgrimage or crusade, and had as a result, 'crossed the waters'. The surname was first recorded in its Latinized form in the latter part of the 11th century, where the name holder as shown below, held the manor of the village of Drayton Parslow in Buckinghamshire. Ralph Passelewa was noted in the register of the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, in the county of Suffolk, and dated 1104. The spellings as Parsly, Parsley, and Parcely, contain an intrusive "r". They first emerge in the early 16th century with the recording of Osbert Parsley, (1511 - 1585), who was for fifty years the Singing Master at Norwich Cathedral. The first recorded spelling of the family name in any form is believed to be that of Radulfus Passaqua. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Buckinghamshire, during the reign of King William 1st of England and known as known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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