The surname of HEDLEY was locational from Hedley, a spot in Northumberland. There is also a parish of the name in the diocese of Winchester. Almost every city, town or village extant in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. While a man lived in a town or village he would not be known by its name, as that would be no means of identification - all in the village would be so named. But when a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or by the name of the land which he owned. Some had the name of a manor or village because they were lords of that place and owned it, but the majority descend from vassals of freeman who once had lived there. Early records of the name mention Alan de Hedleg, 1273, County Salop. Schero de Hedley, who witnessed confirmation of a grant of Swaynstoun to the Hospital of Soltre, Scotland, in the year 1221. Robert de Hedleye of Edinburgh was documented in the year 1260. Willelmus de Hedlay of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Hedlye and Agnes Daye were married in London in the year 1598. 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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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