This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of three places thus called. Checkley in Cheshire is recorded as "Checkley" in the 1130 Pipe Rolls of the county; Checkley in Herefordshire is recorded as "Chakkeleya" in the 1195 Pipe Rolls; and Checkley in Staffordshire is recorded as "Cedla" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Checkeleg" in the 1196 Feet of Fines. All placenames share the same meaning and derivation, which is from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Ceacca", and "leah", clearing, glade; hence, "Ceacca's clearing". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Checkly and Checkley. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Eme Checkley and William Meicke on June 17th 1577, at Tamworth, Staffordshire; the christening of Alice, daughter of William Checkley, at St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, London, on December 26th 1597; and the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of William Checkley, on April 14th 1605, at St. Michael's, Wood Street, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a black chevron between three red cinquefoils on a silver shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of James Checkley, which was dated October 18th 1574, marriage to Jane Rewell, at St. Mary Aldermary, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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