This interesting name is English. Recorded in the spellings of Headley and Hedley, it was originally a locational surname from any of the various places called Headley or Hedley. The former place name spellings are to be found in the counties of Hampshire, Surrey, Worcestershire and West Yorkshire, whilst the places called Hedley are in County Durham and Northumberland. These are variously recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Hallege, Hallega, and Hethleia and all share the same basic meaning and derivation, which is the "clearing in the heather", from the Old English pre 7th Century "haeth", meaning heathland or heather, with "leah", a fenced clearing or farm. The surname development includes: Nicholas de Heddeleg, of Shropshire in 1275, Cecilia de Hedlegh of Yorkshire in 1292, and Willelmus de Hedlay also of Yorkshire in the infamous Poll Tax rolls of the year 1379. Amongst the recordings of the surname in the surviving early church registers of the diocese of Greater London, is that of the marriage of John Hedley and Margery Latham, at St. Margaret's church, Westminster, on September 13th 1542. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Alan de Hedleg. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Shropshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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