Recorded as Birley, Burley, Burleigh and occassionally Borley or Borleigh, this is an English surname It is locational from any of the various places called Burley in Derbyshire, Rutland, Shropshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The name in all cases, derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "burg", a fort, and "leah", a clearing in a wood; hence, "the clearing by a fort". Locational surnames were originally acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 13th Century (see below). An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Sir Simon Burley (1336 -1388), who was Governor of Windsor Castle (1377 - 1388), tutor to Richard 11nd, and negotiator of his marriage with Anne of Bohemia in 1380. In 1577, Edward Burley, of Wiltshire, was recorded in the Oxford University Register, and on October 26th 1594 Nicholas Borley also recorded as Burley, was a christening witness at St Andrews Holborn in the city of London, whilst on July 15th 1635, Roger Burley, aged seventeen, embarked from London on the ship "Assurance" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded settlers in the New World colonies of America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Borleg. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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