Recorded as Otley, Ockley, and Oatley, this is an English surname. It is locational from either of the places called Otley, in Suffolk and in West Yorkshire, or from Oteley in Shropshire. The place in Suffolk is recorded as Otelega, and the place in Yorkshire as Otelai, in the Domesday Book of 1086, and both mean "Otta's wood or glade", derived from the Old English pre 7th century personal name "Otta", with "leah", a wood or a clearing in a wood. The place called Oteley in Shropshire is recorded as Otley in 1280, and is named from "atan", meaning oats, with leah as before, to mean "clearing where oats were grown". Locational names were given especially to those former inhabitants who moved to another area, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The marriage of William Otley and Elizabeth Marshall was recorded at Arksey in Yorkshire on October 22nd 1661, whilst much earlier the first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Otteleye. This was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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