Recorded in many forms including Cookley, Cooksley, the intrusive s being added as an aid to dialectal control, Coakley, Cokely, and Cocklie, this is an English surname. It is locational the name translating as "the stream in the wood" from the Olde English pre 7th century cwicu-leah, and would seem to originate from any one of three villages in England called Cookley, in the counties of Worcester, Oxford and Suffolk. However the surname in its varied forms, is seemingly most recorded in the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London. This is not in itself unusual. It probably means that around the 17th century the various villages were cleared to facilitate sheep farming, and the tenants were then forced to seek employment elsewhere. When this happened most people moved to the growing city of London, then perceived as the mecca, and probably the only place outside of their immediate locality, that they would have even heard of. In so doing they took or were given for easy identification the name of their former village, and given the strong local dialects and generally poor spelling, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" forms. The early recordings in London include examples such as Ann Cokely, the daughter of John and Marye Cokely, christened at the church of St Mary Somerset, on May 30th 1622, Bridget Cooksley, who married James Smyth at the church of St Bartholmew the Great, on June 16th 1766, and William Cookley, a witness at Sion Chapel in the Old Kent Road, on October 7th 1882. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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