Recorded as Monkleigh, Monkley, Munckley, Munkley and probably others, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the village of Monkleigh in the county of Devonshire, and is an excellent example of a locational surname, in the diversity of the spelling. Locational surnames are by their nature "from" names. That is to say names that were given to people after they left their original homes, to move somewhere else and were best identified by their new neighbours by the name of their former homestead. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the creation of "sounds like" spellings. The name means "Monks farm" and Monkleigh was first recorded in the pipe rolls of Devonshire in 1266 as Monckeleghe. The place belonged to the monks of Montacute, in Somerset, showing just how widely monastery ownership could be spread. The surname is later, and it is uncertain as to when it was first recorded. However in the surviving church registers of Devonshire we have the recordings of Andrew Mounckley, a christening witness at Frithelstock on May 17th 1619, and Maria Munkely who married Clement Weeks at the village of Ide near Exeter, on May 30th 1682.
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