Recorded as Ledgely, Lidgley, Leadley, Ledley and Leathley, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from a now 'lost' medieval village, or according to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880, from the village of Leathley in West Yorkshire. This village is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as "Ledelai", which by the year 1291 had been transposed in spelling to "Lethelaye." On this basis the apparent spelling variations in the surname are quite possible. The origination of Leathley is from the Old English pre 7th century word "hlith", meaning a slope, and "leah", a wood or sometimes the opposite, a clearing in a wood suitable for agriculture. On that basis the name translates as the wood on the slope, or the clearing in the wood on the slope! Locational surnames were those usually given to the local lord of the manor and his descendants, or to people who left their original village to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. Examples of recordings include John Lidgely who married Jane Baylie at St James Clerkenwell in the city of London on February 13th 1603, and William Ledgley who only one month later was christened on March 27th 1603 at the famous church of St. Mary-le-bone, also in the city of London. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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