Recorded as Dunly, Dunley, Dunlay and the transposed Dunlea, this is an English surname. It is locational and originates from any of the villages called Dunley in the counties of Surrey, Worcester and Wiltshire. All have much the same meaning of the farm on the hill, from the pre 7th century Olde English 'dun' meaning a hill and 'leah', an area of land fenced for agriculture. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say surnames given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. In so doing, they took or were given, for easy identification the name of their former home. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, this often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. The surname is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London with examples such as Andrewe Dunly at St Margarets Westminster on February 7th 1614, and as a change in spelling, that of Lawrence Dunlea, the son of John Dunlea, who was christened at St Mary's Soho, on August 22nd 1870.
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