This is a locational name which derives either from the town of Bexley in Kent or rather more oddly, Bexhill in Sussex, the latter being a good example of how even place names change their identity over the centuries. In the 1086 Domesday Book both places appear in the original spelling form of "Bexleah" which translates as "The place (leah) of the Box trees (byxe)" from the Olde English pre 8th century. In fact both places are recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as early as 778 a.d. although the surname is much later. Most locational surnames were initially those of the Lord of the Manor, however this does not seem to apply in this case as the first Lord Bexley was not appointed until 1823, and he was a Vansittart. On the other hand the name development has not followed the usual pattern of being given to a former inhabitant when he or sometimes she, moved to another area or parish. These moves were often as a result of plague, civil war, or the changes in agricultural practise, resulting from the 15th century Enclosure Acts, but as "Bexley" name holders are found literally in Bexley from the Middle Ages, this would seem not to apply. The recordings of the surname include Robert Bexly who was christened at Kirdford, Sussex on January 1st 1569, parents not recorded, and Robert Bexley of Bexley, whose daughter Margaret, was christened on September 17th 1592. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Bexley, which was dated June 14th 1568, married Katheryn Bousman at Cranbrook, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess," 1558 - 1603. 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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