This rare name is of French origin and is numerous in Cornwall, where, it is thought, a Breton or Norman family of this name settled sometime before the end of the 16th Century (see first recording below). The family may have originally come from Chelles near Paris, where there is a famous ruined 9th Century abbey, and of course, may have introduced the name into Britain as early as the 11th Century (after the Norman Conquest of 1066), but with existing records this cannot be proved. There is listed in Burke's General Armory, a coat of arms for Chelley, 'a bend nebulee cottised gu.(red)' on a silver shield. Amongst the sample recordings in Cornwall are, the christenings of John Cheley on September 3rd 1630 at Lanlivery Rural, and of Elizabeth Cheley on September 25th 1655 at St. Sampson or Golant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Chealie, which was dated March 19th 1595, Luxulyan, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, '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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