This unusual surname has four possible and well-documented origins, any one of which is applicable to modern-day namebearers. The first of these is French, introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, from any of the various places in Northern France called "Tilly". The first recorded instance of the surname as below is from Normandy, "Tilly" or "Tilley". The second source is also locational from "Tilley" in Shropshire, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "telg(e)", branch, bough and "leah", wood, clearing. The third possible origin is from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "tilie", Olde English "tilia", and was applied to a "husbandman", a "tiller of the soil". The final source is as a metronymic, from the medieval female personal name "Tilley" or "Tilie", a diminutive of "Till", from "Matilda". Thomas Tilley and Susanna Turnedge were married in London in 1761. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Tilio, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Devonshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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