This surname of WESLEY was also spelt Wellesley and in Leinster the patronymic Mac Bhalronta was assumed by a branch of the Wellesley family. Waleran, an Old-German forename was much in use by the medieaval Wellesleys, and in accordance with the usual practice in such cases the Gaelic name assumed, became fixed. The Wellesleys were prominent in Irish public life, from the time Wallerand de Welleselegh was appointed a justice itinerant in 1243, until the death of Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) better known as the Duke of Wellington. It must be admitted that the famous soldier was no friend of Ireland, notwithstanding his Irish birth and background. The Wellesley family have been at Dangan, County Meath, since 1174 and many appear in 16th century records. Father Walter Wellesley was the Bishop of Kildare from 1529 until 1539. Edward Wesley was the Catholic Bishop of Kildare from 1683 until 1693. In England the name was of the locational group of surnames meaning one 'of Westley' a parish in County Suffolk near Bury St. Edmunds, a parish in Cambridge, near Newmarket. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived. The name was originally derived from the Old English word WESTLEAH, literally meaning the dweller at the wood-clearing. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention William de Westle, 1273, County Cambridge. William Wesley of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include a certain Thomas Westley of County Warwickshire who registered at Oxford University in the year 1600. A William Williamson married Ann Wesly at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year of 1749.
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