Recorded in a number of individual spellings including Wackley, Wakeley, Wackly, Wakley and Wakely, this is an English post medieval locational surname. It originates from the village of Wakeley in the county of Hertfordshire, north of London, in the region known as 'The Home Counties'. The village is ancient being recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as 'Wacherlei', from the pre 7th century Olde English 'Waca', a personal name of some popularity, and meaning 'watchful' plus the suffix 'leah', meaning a clearing in a wood, and the origin of the popular surnames Lea, Lee and Leigh. Locational surnames were given either to the lord of the manor, although we have no such record in this case, or to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. 'Elsewhere' may be the next village or more probably London, where this surname in all its spellings is well recorded. Interestingly, the first recording that we have of this name is from the opposite direction entirely, and is that of Roger de Wakeley, who is to be found in the 1332 Subsidy Tax Rolls, of the county of Staffordshire, where he held substantial lands. The surname is also well recorded in the county of Kent, and in Ireland, where in 1623 Thomas Wakeley of Ballyburly, Kings County, was a landowner registered with the Ulster Office. Another interesting name holder was Thomas Wakley M.D., and co-founder with William Cobbett in 1823, of the famous medical magasine 'The Lancet'. He was an early campaigner to prevent manufacturers from adulterating food, a fight which still goes on.
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