Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is a Medieval English surname. However spelt it is said to be a dialectal variant and originally confined to the county of Northumberland, of the well known locational surname Morley. There are a number of Morley towns and villages in England and specifically in the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Durham, Norfolk, Yorkshire, as well as the village of Moreleigh, in Devonshire. The derivation of the place name is the pre 7th century word "mor", meaning moorland, marsh or fen, and 'leah', an area of cultivated land (a farm!) within a forest. The earliest recordings of the place name is in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 where Morley appears as Morlea (Norfolk), Moreleia (West Yorkshire) and Morlei, in Devon. Amongst the sample recordings found in Northumberland are the christenings of Elizabeth Moralee on February 26th 1708, and Anna Morallee on May 27th 1718. She was the daughter of Gerald Morallee of Lee St. John. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Milo de Morleia.. This was dated 1196, in the Pipe Rolls of Buckinghamshire, during the reign of King Richard Ist, and known to history as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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