This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwaete", wheat, with "leah", a glade or clearing. These places include Whatley in Somerset, recorded as "Watelege" in the Domesday Book of 1086; Wheatley in Essex, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Oxfordshire which appear respectively as "Wateleia", "Watelei", and "Watlage" in the Domesday Book, and Whatley near Tamworth in Warwickshire. Locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to seek work or settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname include: Martin de Watelega, (Nottinghamshire, 1130) and Peter de Watteleg, (Yorkshire, 1196). In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Whateley, Wheatleigh and Wheatly to Watley. A Coat of Arms borne by Sir Joseph Whatley, Groom of the Bedchamber to George 1V and William 1V, is red, a silver lion rampant, on a gold chief three black mullets. The mullet or star denoted Honour and Achievement in service of the state in ancient times. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert de Watileia, which was dated 1086, in the "Geld Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King William 1st, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1086. 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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