This is an English locational surname. Recorded as Starley, Stearley, Sterley, Sturley, and others, it originates from a place called 'ster-leah', meaning steer or cattle farm. However no such place in any of the known surname spellings is to be found in England, although there is place called Starleyburn in Fifeshire in Scotland. However there is no evidence that this is the origin of the surname, although the meaning is the same of 'Steer farm.' Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people, who for whatever reason, left their original homesteads to live and work somewhere else. It is estimated that some five thousand villages have disappeared from the landscape of the British Isles in the past five centuries, and most if not all, have given rise to surnames. In this case the surname in its varied spellings is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London. Examples taken at random include Alice Sturley at St James Clerkenwell on April 15th 1594, John Sterley at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on March 7th 1685, and another John, but this time recorded in the spelling of Stirley, who married Mary Atkins at St Matthews, Bethnal Green, on December 3rd 1775.
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