This interesting name is of English origin and is a locational name from a so called "lost" village, of which it is estimated, there are between seven and ten thousand that have disappeared from British maps. It is likely that Kearley or Kerley was once situated in Sussex or Hampshire, bearing in mind that since those early times, county bounds have been radically altered. The phenomenon of the "lost" village was generally a result of enforced land clearance, in the 12th and 13th Centuries at the height of the wool industry, as well as the more natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, war, etc. The derivation is probably from the Old English pre 7th Century "caerse", cress and the Old Norse "ey", island. The following examples illustrate the name development after 1574, John Kerlie (1602, Hantshire) and William Kerlye (1604, Hantshire). Mary Kearley was christened on March 10th 1697 in Hemingbrough, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Kerley (marriage to Kyrstean Stringer), which was dated July 28th 1574, Lyminster, 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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