This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place, believed to have been situated in the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire area, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand village and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The component elements of the placename may have been the Olde English pre 7th Century "cu", cow, and "leah", grove, wood; hence, "wood where cows frequented". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Culley, Cully and Culy. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Wylliam Cully and Agnes Marciall at Stainton in Cleveland, Yorkshire, on October 16th 1569; the marriage of Anne Culley and John Tomson on December 3rd 1591, at Grantham, Lincolnshire; and the christening of Anne, daughter of Richard and Dennis Culy, on August 8th 1652, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. A Coat of Arms granted to this family depicts a black chevron between three black pellets on a silver shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sir Hugh de Culy, which was dated 1300, in the medieval records of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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