This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a dialectal transposition of the locational name Burley or Burleigh, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "burg, burh", fortified place, fort, with "leah", wood, grove. These places include: Burleigh in the Easthampton rural district of Berkshire; Burleigh near South Stroud in Gloucestershire; and also Burley in Hampshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The latter four were recorded respectively as: "Burgelea" in 1178, as "Burlegh" in 1233, as "Burhleg" circa 972, and as "Burleye" in 1251. The initial element "burg, burh", is a widespread one in placenames. Very often the reference is to a Roman or other pre-English fort, though in many cases "burg" probably denoted a fortified manor. Locational surnames such as this were originally given to local landowners and the Lord of the Manor, and early examples include: Simon de Burley (Shropshire, 1273), and Hugh de Burlay (Berkshire, 1273). One Edward Burleigh of Wiltshire was entered in the Oxford University Register in 1577, and Robert Balfour, second Baron Balfour of Burleigh (deceased 1663) married the heiress of the title and acquired same by royal patent. A Coat of Arms granted to the Burleigh family is a paly of six silver and red, on a chief also paly six crescents all counterchanged, the Crest being a red stag's head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Borleg, which was dated 1272, in the "Hundred Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of 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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