The surname of WHATLEY is a locational name derived from the Old English 'leah' where wheat was grown. Examples can be found is various places such as a parish in Oxford, three separate hamlets in Yorkshire and a parish in Bath and Wells. Locational names usually denote where a man held land. Early records of the name mention Peter de Watele, County of Oxford 1273, John de Whateleghe, county of Dorset 1273 and Mathew de Wateley County of Oxford 1273. Henricus de Wytlay of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name is also spelt as Whateley, Whatley and Wheatly. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice amongst all people. A notable member of the name was Richard Whateley (1763-1863) the English scholar and prelate, born in London. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and was elected a fellow there in 1826. In 1825 he was appointed principal of St. Alban Hall and in 1829 professor of political economy at Oxford and in 1831, archbishop of Dublin. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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