Recorded as Cheley and Chelley, this rare name is English but of French origins. It is fairly numerous in the county of 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 this cannot be proved. There is listed in Burke's General Armory, a coat of arms for Chelley of 'A bend nebulee cottised gules' 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 Chelley on September 25th 1655 at St. Sampson Golant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Chealie. This was dated March 19th 1595, at Luxulyan, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England and known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558-1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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