Recorded in the spellings of Midgley, Midgely, and the dialectal forms Mitchely and Mitchley, this is an English locational surname. It is of Medieval English origin and is locational from either of two places in the county of Yorkshire. The first near the town of Halifax is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Micleie', and again in the Close Rolls of 1238 as Miggelay. The second near Barnsley, is first recorded in the Yorkshire Charter Rolls of 1160- 1175 as 'Migelaia', and in the Episcopal Registers of 1234, as Miggeley. However spelt the meaning is the same. It derives from the pre 7th Century Olde English 'mycg', meaning a midge, and 'leah', a fenced area or meadow, thus, a midge infested meadow! During the Middle Ages, when people began to leave their birth places to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt or more likely be given, as their surname the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very 'thick', lead to the development of variant forms. Amongst the early recordings taken from surviving church registers, is the marriage between Abraham Midgley and Agnes Brockton on February 9th 1606, in Halifax, whilst in London Thomas Mitchley, was a christeneing witness at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on August 23rd 1646. The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of Ricardus de Migeslay, in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls of the county of Yorkshire. This was during the reign of King Richard 11nd of England, 1377 - 1399. .
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