The surname of DAWLEY was a locational name 'of Dawley' a spot in County Shropshire. The name was derived from the Old English word 'dallas-leah' meaning the dweller at the lea in a valley. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conqueror. It is known as the Domesday book. Early records of the name mention Dalelie (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Dalilega (without surname) appears in the year 1185 in Shropshire, and Thomas Daley of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll tax of 1379. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. There is also a place Dawley in County Middlesex from where some of the original bearers may have taken their name. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt Dauley, Dawly and Dayley.
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