This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from either of the places called "Otley", in Suffolk and in West Yorkshire, or from "Oteley" in Shropshire. The place in Suffolk is recorded as "Otelega", and the place in Yorkshire as "Otelai", in the Domesday Book of 1086, and both mean "Otta's wood or glade", derived from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name "Otta", a short form of "Ohthere", adapted from the Old Norse "Ottar", composed of the elements "otti", fear, dread, with "herr", army, with "leah", thin wood, glade, clearing in a wood.The place called "oteley" in Shropshire is recorded as "Otley" in 1280, and is named from the Old English "atan", oats, with "leah" as before, to mean "clearing where oats were grown". Locational names were given especially to those former inhabitants who moved to another area, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The marriage of William Otley and Elizabeth Marshall was recorded at Arksey in Yorkshire on October 22nd 1661. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Otteleye, which was dated 1275, in the "Suffolk Hundered Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.
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