This unusual name is of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. Enforced clearance and dispersal of former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures in the 14th Century was a prime cause of these "disappearances" resulting in "lost" villages along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "gara" meaning a triangular piece of ground, plus "lea" or "leigh", open land. The reference is therefore probably to a triangular area left at the corner of an open field after rectangular furlongs had been laid out. The surname, with variant spellings Jarley, Garlee etc., is particularly well recorded in Church registers of South East England from the mid 16th Century, (see below). On October 2nd 1608 Bartholomew Garley, an infant was christened in Dartford, Kent and on august 19th 1677 Richard Garley was Christened in St. Katherine by the Tower, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ales Jarley, which was dated February 14th 1562, christened in Ticehurst, Sussex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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