Recorded in many forms including: Casley, Casely, Cashley, Causley, Kesley, and Caseley this is an English surname. It is locational and originates from one of the estimated three thousand villages and hamlets that have disappeared from the maps of the British Isles in the past five hundred years. Many reasons have been put forward for these changes bu the prime cause was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 16th Century. Natural causes such as the plague known as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to the "lost" village phenomenon, as has later urbanisation. The component elements of this name are believed to be the Olde English pre 7th century personal name "Ceatta", a byname meaning cat, plus "leah", an open place in a wood, clearing; hence "Ceatta's clearing". Early examples of the recordings include; Martin Cashlee, a witness at the famous church of St Dunstans, in the East, Stepney, on March 30th 1655, and Sarah, the daughter of William and Margaret Caisley, who was christened on January 1st 1755, at Hornsey, and John Cashley who married Elizabeth Weight at Foston on the Wolds, on May 14th 1788. 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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