This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an English locational name from "Olney", in Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, the former appeared as "Ollaneg" in 979 in the Saxon Diplomatic Codex, while the latter was recorded as "Anelegh" in 1220, in the Forest Charters. The placename in Buckinghamshire derives its name from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Olla", plus "-eg", island, hence, "Olla's Island", while Olney in Northamptonshire means "lonely glade", from the Olde English "ana", lonely, and "leah", clearing in a wood, a glade. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the surname. John de Olneye was mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1273. The marriage of Nathaniel Olney and Mary Davis was recorded at St. Mary le Strand, London, on November 1st 1621. In the modern idiom, the surname is also found as Olner. A coat of Arms was granted to a namebearer who was Lord Mayor of London in 1446, which depicts five bezants in saltire between two silver flaunches, each charged with a black lion rampant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter le Olnei, which was dated 1273, in the Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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