This name, with variant spellings Spencley, Spensly, and Spenclay, is particularly well recorded in church registers of Northern England from the mid 16th Century, and is a locational name from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. Enforced 'clearing' and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures in the 14th Century was a prime cause of these 'disappearances', along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348. The original place is believed to have been in Yorkshire, and the component element are the Medieval English personal byname Spence developed from 'spence', a worker in a larder, plus 'leah', a glade or open place in a wood. On November 18th 1566 Ann Spenceley, an infant, was christened in Linton in Craven, Yorkshire, and on November 3rd 1588, Susan Spensley, an infant, was christened in St. Mary le Bow, London. Locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of birth to seek work elsewhere. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johanne Spenclay, (marriage to William Johnson), which was dated June 11th 1547, Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, 'Bluff King Hal', 1509 - 1547. 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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