This interesting surname, of English origin, is a locational name from any of the various places called Morley in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Durham, Norfolk and West Yorkshire, or Moreleigh in Devon, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mor" meaning marsh, moor or fen plus "leah", wood or clearing, hence "leah by a fen or moor". The surname dates back to the early 14th Century (see below). Further recordings include one Adam de Morlay (1379), and Johannes Morelay (1378), both recorded in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Moorley, Morley, and Moralee. Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Catherine Mowrley at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, on December 31st 1551, and the marriage of Alice Morley and David Russell at Tottenham, on October 25th 1562. George Morley (1596 - 1684) was bishop of Winchester. James and Alexander Morley, famine emigrants, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Robert-Marks" bound for New York on May 25th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Morlay, which was dated 1319 in the "Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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