This ancient surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is habitational from any of the various places in England called Farley or Farleigh, such as those in Berkshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, and Staffordshire. The placenames are derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fearn", fern (a collective noun), and "leah", wood or clearing, hence, "a fern-covered clearing". Farley Hill in Berkshire was first recorded as Farellei" in the Domesday Book of 1086; the place in Derbyshire was first recorded as "Farleie" in the Domesday Book; and the place in Hampshire was first recorded as "Ferlege", also in the Domesday Book. Farley in Staffordshire was first recorded as "Fernelege" in the Domesday Book of the county, and as "Farleye" in "Inquisitiones post mortem", dated 1273. Early examples of the surname include Richard de Farlegh (1222, Oxford), and John Farleye (1332, Worcestershire). One Thomas Farley, and his wife Jane, were recorded in a Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia in January 1624; they had arrived on the "Ann" in 1623. An early Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is three black pales on a gold shield, the Crest being an antelope's head erased, pierced through the neck by a short spear proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Ferlecheia, which was dated 1189, in "Medieval Records of Glastonbury Abbey", Somerset, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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