This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin with variant spellings Webley, Weblye, Wibley, Whebley, Webbley and Whibley, is a locational name from Weobley in Herefordshire (recorded as "Wibelai" in 1187, and as "Webbeley" in 1242), the first element being a byform, "Weobba" or "Wiobba", of the attested Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wibba", plus the Olde English "leah" meaning "wood or clearing". The surname dates back to the mid 16th Century (see below). Locational surnames, such as this, were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of William Webley and Agnes Commyns on January 26th 1565, at St. Mary Magdalene's, Old Fish Street; the marriage of Alyce Wybley and John Nathanbye on November 24th 1567, at St. Michael's Cornhill; and the marriage of John Whibley and Sally Colyer on February 4th 1798, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isabell Webley, which was dated 1560, recorded at All Hallows the Less, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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