Recorded in a number of individual spellings including Wackley, Wakeley, Wackly, Wakley, Wakely, Wakearly, Wackerley, Wakerley and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from the village of Wakerley in the county of Northamptonshire, some eight miles from Stamford, or from Wakeley in the county of Hertfordshire, north of London. Wakerley is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wacherlai, as indeed is Wakeley in Herts. In both cases the development is 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 Subsidy Tax Rolls of 1332, of the county of Staffordshire, where he held substantial lands. The surname is also well recorded in the city of London where Thomas Wakerly appears in the register of St Giles Cripplegate on June 25th 1704, whilst in Ireland Thomas Wakeley of Ballyburly, Kings County, was a landowner registered with the Ulster Office in 1723. 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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