This interesting surname is both English and Scottish, although the Scottish nameholders almost certainly have the same English origin. It is locational from the various villages called Blackley, Blakeley, and Blackley, in the counties of Lancashire and the former West Riding of Yorkshire. The place name and hence the later surname, derive from the pre 7th century Old English words "bloec", meaning black or dark, plus "leah", a wood or sometimes a clearing in a wood. The village name is first recorded as "Blakeley" in the charters for Lancashire known as the "Inquisitions post mortem" for the year 1282. The early surname recording in Scotland, suggests that a family emigrated there from Lancashire in the 13th century, probably to the Dumfries region, which was almost an English colony. Amongst the earliest of recordings are those of William de la Blekelegh, in the parliamentary writs for the county of Staffordshire in 1301, whilst the Neubotle Registers of Edinburgh, Scotland, record Radulphus Blackley as a juror on an inquest at Berwick in 1321. John Bleaklay was listed in the Register of Freemen of the city of York in 1543, whilst Thomas Blackly aged 20, was one of the first settlers to Virginia, New England, in 1635. He embarked on the ship "Hopswell of London" in that year. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Blakeleye. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of London. This was during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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