Recorded as Wadly, Wadley, Weadley and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the small village of Wadley near the town of Farindon, in the county of Berkshire. The name is believed to mean either the farm of Wada, an old English personal name, or possibly a place where woad was grown. Woad was grown to provide a blue dye for cloth, although in much earlier times it was also used as a body paint. Another possibility is that it is from the pre 7th century word "gewaed" meaning a ford, or the farm by the ford. The village is first recorded in the year 1242 in the tax rolls known as the Fees, although it is unclear when the surname was first recorded. It may originally have been the name of the local lord of the manor of Wadley, or more usually it would have been a surname given to people as easy identification after they left their original home to move somewhere else. As locational surnames are the largest grouping within the surname listings, clearly more people took to the "high road" in early times, than is usually given credit. What we do know is that this surname is well recorded in the city of London from the Elizabethan period, and early recordings include Joane Wadley who married George Hollis at St James Clerkenwell on May 6th 1600, and Abraham Wadly who was christened at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney on March 25th 1603. They do not appear to have been related, and therefter the surname had increasing popularity in the area.
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