Recorded in a number of spellings including Madeley, Medley, Medlay, Meadley and Midley, this is a surname of English origins. It has several possible originations. Firstly and most probably it is locational and originates from Medley, a place in Oxfordshire on the River Thames. This name is composed of the old English elements "middel-eg", meaning the island in the middle of the river, or it may be from the village of "Madeley", with two villages in the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire, or Madley in Gloucestershire. These are all named after the old personal name of the pre 7th century "Mada" meaning good, and "leah", a wood or clearing in a wood. Finally it is possible that the name may derive from the old French word "medlee", meaning combat or conflict, and one which became a nickname and hence a surname for an aggressive person! Early examples of the surname recording include: Thomas Medlay in the Post Mortem lists of the year 1419, whilst the rax records known as the "Feet of Fines" of Warwickshire mention Benedict Medley in 1496, and Christopher Medelay was listed in the Coroners Rolls of Nottinghamshire in 1504. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon atte Middele. This was dated 1273, in the historical record known as Kirby's Quest for the county of Somerset, 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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