Recorded in many spellings forms including Wycherley, Wickersley, Whicherley, Witcherley, and Witcharley, this is an English medieval surname. It is locational and according to 'Burkes General Armoury' was recorded as Wycherley of Wicherley in Salop (Shropshire), thus suggesting that the original nameholders were the lords of the manor. This however raises two interesting points. The first is that the original spelling of the surname was with an "i", the spelling form with a "y" seemingly being an 18th century affectation, to attempt to revive what might have been an early English spelling. The second point is that no such place as Wicherley or Wycherley or anything like it, seems to exist as a place name anywhere in England. Presumably a place so named did once exist, but if so it no longer appears in any known gazetter. This in itself is not unual, about 8% of English locational surnames are believed to derive from places, whose only memory survives in the existing surname. The make up of the name does suggest that it is from the Olde English pre 7th century words 'wice' and 'leah', meaning the clearing in the elm wood. Early examples of the surname taken from surviving registers and charters of Shropshire include: Symon Witcharley of Waters Upton, on December 28th 1566, and Thomas Wickerley of Weston under Redcastle, on July 7th 1571. William Wycherley (1640 - 1715) was a famous dramatist. He was born at Clive in Cheshire, and after education at Oxford University, had his first play 'Love in St James Park' produced in London in 1671. This perhaps not surprisingly, secured for him the 'intimacy' of the Duchess of Cleveland, the premier mistress at the time, of King Charles 11 (1160 - 1685).
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