The surname of WESTLEY 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. 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 th Oxford University in the year 1600. A William Williamson married Ann Wesly at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year of 1749. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village early times, has served to name many families. 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. Translation of arms: Argent (white) means Peace and sincerity. Sable (black) was the sable fur, and the escallop shell was a badge much used by Pilgrims, (they considered it to be lucky) and is a common bearing in Coat Armour.
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