Recorded in several forms as shown below, this surname is English and of Anglo-Saxon origin. However spelt it is locational from a place in Staffordshire called Rugeley. Recorded as "Rugelie" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Ruggelega" in the 1156 Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire, the derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hrycg", meaning a ridge, and "-leah", a glade or clearing. 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 name. The surname first appears on record at the beginning of the 14th Century (see below), and in the modern idiom has Ridgley, Rugeley, Rudgeley and Rudgley. Early examples of the surname recording include Katherin Ridgley, who was christened at the church of St Lawrence Pountney, in the city of London, on October 18th 1595, Thomas, the son of Benjamin Rudgley, who was christened at Barton under Nedwood, Staffordshire, on February 23rd 1653, whilst on September 24th 1656 Thomas Rudgley and Frances Lewis were married in Saint Margaret's, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Giles de Rugeleye, which was dated 1301, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1st, "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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