Recorded in a number of spellings including Churly, Churley, Cherley, Cheerly, and probably others - this is a medieval English locational surname. It comes from the same 'root' as the popular surname and place name Chorley, translating as the 'Lea of the ceorls' with Lea meaning an island or an enclosure in a forest, and ceorl, a peasant, but in actuality a woodman or forester, and certainly an all round survivor! The Chorley surname usually comes from the town of the same name in Lancashire, but the surname is not recorded until 1595. Churly or Churley is much earlier, and first recorded in the 13th century as shown below, making it one of the earliest surnames on record. Today there is no place in Somerset with anything like the surname spelling, which suggests that we may have a 'lost' village situation. In the middle ages much of Somerset (still known today as 'The levels') was like Norfolk and Suffolk with the Fens - under water. As result there were island communities who often lived by fishing and farming. When the Levels were drained in about 1450 and later, many of the 'occupants' were forced to leave and often they set off from london, as it was strongly rumoured the streets were paved in gold. Sadly not so for most people. The surname is well recorded in the registers of the old city of London, the first example being Edward Churly at the church of St. Mary Whitechaple, Stepney, in 1636. However the first recording of the name in any spelling is that of Adam Churleye. he appears in the rolls known as Kirby's Quest for the county of Somerset, in 1273. This was the first year of the reign of King Edward 1st of England, known to history as 'The hammer of the Scots,' 1272 - 1307.
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