Recorded as Fishleigh, Fishley, Fishly and even Feasley, this is an English surname. It is locational and according the the Dictionary of Place Names is probably from two places in England. The first would seem to be Fishleigh House. This is near to the village of Hatherleigh in the county of Devonshire, the second is Fishley, a village south of Norwich in the county of Norfolk. Fishleigh House in Devonshire is believed to stand on the site of a former village called Fishleigh, which was 'cleared' in the 18th century. This was quite a normal practice in those days when agricuture was being 'modernised.' When it happened the tenants had little choice but to leave the area and to look for work where best they could. Because Devonshire was the richest county in England before the Napoleonic War of 1795 - 1815, most people clearly found work nearby and the name is very well recorded there in all its spellings. However a number made for London, then as now the mecca of those seeking their fortune, or even just survival. Fishley in Norfolk is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and there is no evidence of any serious social changes. Both places would seem to have the meaning of 'The fisherman's farm' from the pre 7th century Olde English 'fisca-leah.' Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include Tomasine Fyshleigh who married John Hockyn at Frithelstock in Devonshire, on February 22nd 1584, Nicholas Fishlee or Fislea, a christening witness at the famous church of St Katherine's by the Tower (of London), on September 3rd 1587, and Anthony Fishley at Hartland in Devon, on October 5th 1604.
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