This interesting surname is of English locational origin from a place called Dearnley in Lancashire, although the surname is predominatly recorded in Cheshire. The placename is recorded as Dernylegh in the Court Rolls of Lancashire (1324) and derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "dierne" a secret or hidden plus "leah" an open place in a wood or clearing; hence a "hidden solitary clearing". The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 17th Century, (see below). One, Richard Dearneley, of Manchester, is noted in the History of East Cheshire (1677). In the modern idiom the surname has numerous variant spellings including Dearnaly, Dearnaley, Dearnley, Dearnly, Denerley, Dennerley and Dennerly. Early recordings of the surname from the church registers include such examples as John Dearnaley, who married Elizabeth Bayer, on March 13th 1768 at Mottram, Cheshire, whilst on May 3rd 1772, Thomas Denerley married Elizabeth Smithers at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, London, and the same Thomas, but recorded as Thomas Dennerley, married again to Mary Puller at St Leonards church, Shoreditch, London, on July 8th 1781. Other recordings include James, the son of Jonathon and Deborah Dearnley, who was christened at Mottram, on December 14th 1783; and on November 24th 1784, Mary, the daughter of Amos and Mary Dearnaley, was christened at the same place. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Deneley, who married Marie Redditch, which was dated December 22nd 1630, in the Mottram in Longdendale, Cheshire, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as "The Martyr", 1625 - 1649. 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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