The surname of WHITELEGG is a corruption of the name Whiteley and is a locational name 'of Whiteley' the dweller by the white lea or meadow. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Richard de WITELEY, 1190, County Yorkshire. Edward de WHITELEY was documented in County Lancashire in the year 1246. William de WITELEYE was recorded in County York in the year 1273. The name is also spelt WITLEY and WHITLEY. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. Later instances of the name include William Hudson and Agnes WHYTLEGGE, who were married at St. Judas, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1584, and Mary WHITLEGG of Gatley was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1672. It is recorded at Salford Coroner's Court, July 22nd 1887 that Thomas WHITELEGG was a witness. (Manchester Courier, July 23rd 1887). Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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