Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It is locational from some minor or unrecorded place, or perhaps a now "lost" village. There are an estimated three thousand such villages, hamlets, and even small towns, that have now disappeared from the maps of Britain since the 12th century. The prime cause of these "disappearances" has been the enforced clearing and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which a quarter of the population perished. In this case the original site is believed to be in the Midlands region, because of the large number of early recordings to be found there. The component elements of the placename are believed to be the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wibba" (also found in such placenames as Webbery), and "-leah", meaning a wood or clearing; hence, "Wibba's clearing". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Webley, Webbley, Webberley, Wabberley and Wibberley. Early examples of the surname recording include: Hester Webley, christened at the church of All Hallows, the Less, in the city of London, on April 4th 1560, Jane Webberley who was christened at Haltham upon Bain, Lincolnshire on March 20th 1577; Elizabeth Webberlye married George Moore on October 26th 1629, at Nutfield, Surrey; and on March 9th 1748, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wibberley, was christened at St. Martin's, Birmingham, Warwickshire. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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