This surname WILLEY is of two-fold origin. Firstly it was a locational name from any of various places so called. Those in Cheshire, Hereford, Shropshire and Warwickshire are named from the Old English word 'wilig' literally meaning willow and 'leah' meaning wood. In Surrey the name meant one who dwelt near the pagan temple. It was was also a baptismal name 'the son of William' an ancient and still used font name. Early records of the name mention Thomas Wyly, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379 and Thomas Willy appears in County Lancashire in the year 1400. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France 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. The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired. Later instances of the name include Mary Willy who was baptised at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1568 and Thomas Wlliams and Elizabeth Willey were married at Westminster, London in 1614. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Houghton, Co. Northumberland. Granted in 1615.
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