This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational, deriving from any of the various places so called, such as Oxley in Staffordshire, and Ox Lee, near Hepworth in West Yorkshire. The place in Staffordshire was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Oxelie", and in the Fees Court Rolls of the county of 1236 as "Oxeleg". All placenames share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the clearing for oxen", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "oxa", ox, and "leah", clearing in a wood, glade. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowners, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: John de Oxley (1310, Devonshire), and Thomas Oxley (1505, Northamptonshire). Thomas Oxley and Isabel Parkins were married at St. Stephan's, Coleman Street, London, on April 29th 1602. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name from Yorkshire is on a silver shield a red fess, between three blue church bells, three silver crosses pattee. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Oxeleia, which was dated 1227, in the "Feet of Fines of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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