Laslett family history
The origins of the Laslett family are presently unknown. We know that they
moved to Harbledown near Canterbury from Nantwich in Cheshire around 1546.
The name is probably a Kentish rendition of a Cheshire name such as Lancelot
for Roger Laslett the immigrant from Cheshire could not write. It was therefore
most likely that a local parish clerk gave us our Kentish surname ‘Laslett’ or
as it appears in the Harbledown parish registers ‘Lauslet’ or ‘Lawslet’.
The name Lancelot is not so fanciful for Chester the ancient walled capital
of Cheshire is one of the supposed sites of the legendary Camelot.
Natasha Laslett writes "My dad (Richard Laslett) said that our surname originated from a town called ESLETTES in Northern France, we were then called de l’Eslettes… which became Laslett. Eslettes does exist and is in Normandy near Rouen. (put Eslettes into Google Maps to see http://maps.google.fr/maps?hl=fr&tab=wl) As the Normans introduced surnames to the UK it is possible that our distant ancestor was a Norman soldier who was named after the town he came from. Who knows.
But basically the Laslett family is of Kentish stock, more particularly East Kent, that rich area east of the river Medway, which from ancient times has been fought over by successive waves of invaders. Briton, Roman, Saxon, Norman and, in the last great conflict, German have each sought to rule the fields of Kent.
One of the earliest references to Kent that I have read is by C. Julius Caesar who, in De Bello Gallico V,14, says:
Ex his omnibus longe sunt humanissimi qui Cantium incolunt, quae regio est maritima omnis, neque multum a Gallica differunt consuetudine. Interiores plerique frumenta non serunt, sed lacte et carne vivunt pellibusque sunt vestiti. Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleum efficit colorem, atque hoc horridiores sunt in pugna aspectu; capilloque sunt promisso atque omni parte corporis rasa praeter caput et labrum superius.
(Of all the Britons the inhabitants of Kent, an entirely maritime district, are by far the most civilised, differing but a little from the Gallic manner of life. Of the inlanders most do not sow corn, but live on milk and flesh and clothe themselves in skins. All the Britons, indeed, dye themselves with woad, which produces a blue colour, and makes their appearance in battle more terrible. They wear long hair, and shave every part of the body save the head and the upper lip.)
After Caesar's attempt to conquer Britain failed the Romans did not visit that part of the world until the Emperor Claudius invaded Britain from Gaul in 43 AD and in a short time incorporated Britain into the Roman Empire.
About 1450 John Capgrave writing in his Abbreuiacion of Cronicles says:
And ye schal vndirstand that this diuision (of British blood) began in the first coming of Saxones, whech was in the year of oure Lord 455...
The first kyngdam was in Kent, where the first kyng was Hengist...
Bede writing in the early eighth century in his Historiae Ecclesiasticae Gentis Anglorum, the history of the Church of the English people, says:
De Iutarum origine sunt Cantuari (the people of Kent are of Jutish origin).
Also of Hengist and his brother Horsa:
Erant autem filii Uictgisli, cuius pater Uitta, cuis pater Uecta, cuius pater uoden... (they were the sons of Whitgisl, son of Witta, son of Wecta, son of Woden...)
With the exception of Essex all the genealogies of the English royal families which have been preserved go back to Woden, the god after whom Wednesday and the East Kent village of Woodnesborough is named.
Bede also says:
...equibus Horsa postea occisus in bello a Brettonibus hactenus in orientalibus
Cantiae partibus monumentum habet suo nomine insigne (Horsa was afterwards
killed in battle by the Britons, and in the eastern part of Kent there is
still a monument bearing his name).