Last name: Marley

This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the various places thus called, including Marley in Devonshire, Durham, Kent and the West Riding of Yorkshire, or Marley Farm in Brede (Sussex). The Yorkshire place, recorded as "Mardelai" in the Domesday Book of 1086, derives its first element from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mearth" meaning (pine) marten, plus "leah", a wood or clearing. This latter element is common to all the above mentioned places. Marley in Durham and Devonshire, recorded as "Merleia" and "Merlegh" in 1183 and 1242 respectively, share the same first element, i.e. the Olde English "(ge)maer", a boundary; hence "(ge)maer-leah". Marley in Kent, recorded as "Merille" in the 1242 Fine Court Rolls of that county, has as its first element the Olde English "myrig", pleasant. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the mid 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Thomas de Mardele and John de Marley (Yorkshire 1208 and 1285 respectively). On April 26th 1573, Agnes Marley and John Pyppen were married at St. James' Clerkenwell, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts three silver dolphins naiant embowed on a black bend, all on a gold shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Merlai, which was dated circa 1145, in the "Book of Seals of Durham", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2015

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll


I'm looking into a visit to Ireland and was wondering if there might be anyone related to Marley"s from Boston.

nicolas wirtz
hello i'm from france. there a lot of villages call "marly" in france , especially around Paris. Most of them were written "Marley" in the middle -ages. topography says, it comes from a old Gaulish terms "Marialacus" , a little pond ( une petit mare en français) .

Marli Goodnight
Hi My name is Marli Goodnight, my Great Grandfather was John Marley, and my Great Grandmother was May B . James Marley, my great great Grandfather immigrated to America from Ireland and died in 1870, in Newark, WI. I am also currently researching the Marley lineage to see what town in Ireland or area my family came from. Please share anything that you can that pertains !

Hi I was searching information on Marley, Donegal where my family came from (letterkenny area) and found details of marley's travelling from Londonderry (donegal) to Philadelphia - saw ur post and thot maybe it's the same James Marley... if not i'm sure it will be family member anyway :) i went to Letterkenny with my dad James Marley a couple of years ago and there are lots of Marleys in the area. Hope you find it useful. x

My great-great-great-grandfather Richard Marley came from Portadown, County Armagh, to Oneida County, New York, US, in the early 1850s (?). He was a Roman Catholic, and later married a fellow Irish immigrant, Nora Murray. I don't think he descended from the Protestant Anglo-Irish Marleys because he was a Catholic. O'Marleys as well as Marleys are found in Armagh as far back as the 1600s. It is family tradition that our name used to be spelled something like "O'Marleigh," which looks quite similar to the Gaelic O'Mearlaigh.

If you look at the Wikipedia article on the surname Marley it is being traced to Gaelic Irish in origin. It also has been cited as English and Breton/French in origin. The jury is still out on this name. I have the Marley name on my paternal Grandmother's side. She was in Northern Ireland.

My names is Elizabeth Marley I am tracing my family back to Cleator in Cumberland, I believe they came over from Northern Ireland in the late 1840's. Still trying to find out from what district.

Willie Marley
My father and his family was also from Donegal not far from Milford where there are still some of the family living so looks like a strong shout for the Donegal area - Might even be related to Liam Anthony Patrick Slan

joseph t marley
joseph t marley, i am from belfast northern ireland and my immediate familygoing only back to the beginning of 1900 is associated with belfast ,i have not looked beyond this point for my own line , and hello and greetings to all the marley family where ever you may be .

joseph t marley
the gaelic version of marley was o,mearlaigh or o,mearthalle which was anglicised as far back as the early 1600.s originally from the co.meath area ,and appearing in the hearth money rolls of co.s armargh and monaghanin census of 1659,there is a marley st in the town of portadown and also a marley hill in northern englandfrom the english version ,there is also a trace of marley from co. mayo and donegal .

Liam Anthony Patrick Marley
Howdy again to all my fellow Marley's. It's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance Michael. It seems that there are quite a few Marleys that can claim Ireland as their 'motherland'. My Nan, Eileen (nee Sherrard), hails from Londonderry, Northern Ireland and tells me there is a town/village in Ireland where the majority of the families are called Marley!!! I'll try and find out the name of the said town when I next visit her. I've added a link to the French variation of our surname - Marleaux. Enjoy.........

Erina Marley
Erina Marley My grandfather Braithwate Marley came out from Sunderland England before 1940 to live in New Zealand.I'm one of his many NZ grand children.I still have alot to research to find my roots.

Sue Hutchinson
Hi Erina My father was Richard Marley also from Sunderland. There is a large Marely clan there. My sister visited Sunderland recently and discovered a number of close family ties. If you would like to, I can put you in touch with her and some of the family in Sunderland may be able to help you in your research. Kind regards, Sue (nee Marley).

Fiona Marley
My family is marleys from sunderland!

lynda marley
Erina, hi, I am Lynda, Sue Hutchinson's sister. Surely your aunt Margaret would have all the info you need. They are in phone book Avondale ChCh. Athol is Matt's son. She would LOVE you to get in touch.xoxox

Liam Anthony Patrick Marley
My uncle John did some research on our (mine & yours, we're all family here aye haha) family name and found out that we were originally from France, most likely Northern France. The original spelling was either Marleux or Marleaux. We had a historian compile a history for us and it said the original Marleux's were an aristocratic family and were exiled out of France but we don't know why! My family are from Donegal, Northern Ireland but were unable to trace our actual ancestry any further because the local church got burnt down and all the census records were destroyed. Here's a good link to 'our' history..........

Michael Marley
Thanks for the link. My father's family also was from northern Ireland. But it was his mother's family (McGarvey) that was from Donegal. We are unsure where his father's side of his family was from. My great grandfather was named Edward and was a sailor. He traveled to the U.S. around 1850 and lured the sister of an American steel industry executive to marry him and return to Belfast. We think her name was Hanna Hopkins. We're not sure because she died giving birth to my grandfather Michael Marley in 1872. She was only 21 years old. My grandfather, his wife Anna (nee McGarvey) and their six children emigated to the United States in 1923 after he was no longer able to find work in the shipyards. He was made obsolete by the rivet gun. He had three sons, but only my father, Mark, married. The other two became priests. My father had two sons, myself and my brother Edward. But the familiy name likely ends with us. I have four daughters and my brother has no children.

stephen Marley
MY branch of the Marley family came from devonshire. I was recently told that the late JAmaican singer Bob Marley@s English ancestors also came from devonshire. Any one have ifo on this?


Any information on Marley being a Jewish name ?