Recorded as Monckley, Monkley, Monksley, Munkley and probably others, this is an English surname. It is locational from a village in the county of Devonshire called Monkleigh. Recorded as Monckeleghe in the Pipe Rolls of that county in 1266, the name originates from the pre 7th Century word 'munec' meaning a monk, plus 'leah', which literally means a clearing in a wood, but more logically was a farm. The monks referred to here are those of Montacute Abbey in the adjoining county of Somerset. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given as easy identification to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else, usually in search of work. Early examples of the surname recordings include that on July 30th 1639 of Andrew Monckley and Mary Header who were married at St. Sidwell's church in the city of Exeter, Devonshire, and John Munkley who married Ann Francis at the church of St Bartholomew the Great, in the city of London on April 22nd 1658. 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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