Last name: Atcherley

Recorded as Atcherley, Atherley, Atherly, Atchly, Atterley, and probably others, this is an English surname. It is unusual for several reasons. Firstly there is no such place as Atcherley or whatever, in any of the known surname spellings, making it a "lost" medieval village. Secondly until the 20th century the surname was almost always only recorded in the county of Shropshire, and nowhere else. Thirdly the surname is not recorded in any of the known dictionaries of surnames. It is almost certain that the now "lost" place of origin was called Atch-leah or similar, translating as the farm of the Eata people. They were apparently an early English tribe, whose name is also found in Atcham in Shopshire. Some five thousand surnames are understood to originate from lost villages in the British Isles, and this is almost certainly another for the ever growing list. Examples of recordings from surviving church registers of the county of Salop (Shropshire) include Anne Atchley christened at Ludlow on November 11th 1563, and Thomas Atcherley, christened at Bromfield on October 17th 1602.

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My own research indicates that the surname Atcherley was derived from a place in north Shropshire which does in fact survive, although nowadays it is known as Aychley (Aychley Cottages, rather than the more modern Aychley Farm, marking the location). I would also suggest that Atherley, / Atherly is an entirely separate surname rather than a variant of Atcherley, Atterley too (which is derived from another Shropshire place name). Atchley, and variants, originally a south Shropshire surname, might possibly be linked with Atcherley but as yet I have found no documentary evidence for this. DNA testing of male Atcherley and Atchley descendants may help to resolve this last question.