This interesting and unusual name is a dialectal variant of a locational name Christleton from a place so called in Cheshire, and first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Christleton', and circa 1190, in the Chartulary of the Abbey of St. Werburgh, Chester, as 'Cristelton', and derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'cristelmael', a cross, with 'tun', a settlement. In this instance the suffix 'ley' is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'leah', a grove. During the Middle Ages when it became increasingly necessary for people to leave their birthplace to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Amongst the recordings in Cheshire is the christening of Elizabeth Christley on January 22nd 1626, at Wilmslow, and in St. Andrew's, Holborn, London, of Stephen Christley on January 1st 1661. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johane Crystyllie, marriage to William Hingston, which was dated October 16th 1570, South Huish, Devon, 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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