This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the various places so called, such as in Lancashire, recorded as "Helei" in the 1215 Pipe Rolls, in Northumberland, recorded as "Heley" in the 1235 Newminster Cartulary, and in the West Riding of Yorkshire, recorded as "Helay" in the 1348 Yorkshire Deeds. The component element of the placename are the Olde English pre 7th Century "heah" meaning high plus "leah" a wood or clearing; hence "high wood or clearing". Locational names were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their village or place of origin to settle elsewhere. In Ireland the surname is found as an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O' Ealaighthe" composed of the elements "O" meaning descendant of plus "Ealathach" a personal byname meaning ingenious; hence "descendant of the ingenious one". In the modern idiom, the surname has four spelling variations, Healey, Heeley, Healy and Hely. An interesting namebearer was John Healey (deceased 1610), a translator who published "Discovery of a New World", in 1609 and "St. Augustine of the Citie of God". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Helegh, which was dated 1280, in the "County Rolls of Cheshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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