This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places so called in the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Dorsetshire or Northamptonshire. The placenames are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as, respectively, "Hanlei, Henlege, Hanlege" and "Henleie", and all derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "heah", meaning "high", and "leah", a wood or clearing. Locational names were given to the lord of the manor, to local inhabitants, and especially to those who left their original homes and went to live or work in another village or town.The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Laurence de Hanlaye (Yorkshire, 1219); Robert de Handlegh (Gloucestershire, 1314); and John Hanley (Nottinghamshire, 1426). In July 1635, Robert Handley, aged 19 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "Assurance" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in the New World Colonies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert de Hanlega, which was dated 1185, in the "Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire", 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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