The surname of TOLLEY is of two-fold origin, it was derived from the Old English word TOLL, and was a habitation name for one that came from Tollerton in Nottingham, or from Tollesbury in County Essex. Local names usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. It was also an occupational name 'a tax-gatherer'. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state, as is the case here. Early records of the name mention Tolle le grangier who was documented in the year 1218 in County Lancashire, and Roger Tolle appears in County Nottinghamshire in the year 1250. Nicholas Richard Tolle was recorded in 1275 in County Warwickshire. Thomas Towle, County Yorkshire, 1400. Edward Toweler of Hereford, married Mary Howe, in London in the year 1595. Thomas Quinney married Ann Towler at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1788. The name has many variant spellings which include TOLLE, TOWLER and TOWLL. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884 (Tole) It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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