This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is locational, from either Bowley, near Leominster in Herefordshire, in which case it is a dialectal variant, or from Booley in Shropshire. The derivation for both these placenames is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'bula', a bull and 'leah', a grove, thus 'a grove where bulls grazed'. Booley was first recorded in R. W. Eytons 'Antiquiries of Shropshire', circa 1100, as 'Boleley', and Bowley in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Bolelei'. During the Middle Ages, when it was becoming increasingly common for people to migrate further afield, generally to seek work, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. One Jonathan Booley was christened on March 26th 1769 at Hayton, Nottingham. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Booley (christening), which was dated December 14th 1684, St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, during the reign of King Charles 11, 'The Merry Monarch', 1660-1685. 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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