The surname of CHERSEY was a habitation name from Chearsley, a spot in Buckinghamshire, three miles from Thame, said to be originally CERDICELEAGH, i.e. the lee or meadow of Cerdic. Local names find their origins in the villages, towns and areas where people were born, or from the land they owned. The earliest recorded instance of the name appears to be CERDESLAI (without surname) who was documented in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name appears as CHERDESLEA in the year 1103. In the Middle Ages, a man was identified by his place of birth and almost every city, town and village existing in medieval times has originated one or more family names. Anyone leaving his birthplace would be known to new friends and neighbours by the name of his former residence, his birthplace, or the land he owned. 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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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. Other records of the name include Geoffrey de Chardesle who was recorded in 1279 in County Oxford. Later instances of the name mention William Chearsley and Ellyn Edwardes, who were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1575. William Cheasley and Mary Grainger were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1809.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
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