This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the various places so called, such as those in Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, the West Riding of Yorkshire and Somerset. The places in Berkshire, Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire are derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wulf", wolf, or it may be from the personal name or byname "Wulf", also meaning wolf, and the Olde English "leah", wood, clearing. However, the place in Somerset has as its first element the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "woll, wull", spring, stream, a development of the Olde English (West Saxon) "wiell(a)". Woolley in Berkshire was first recorded as "Olvelei" in the Domesday Book of 1086, the place in Yorkshire first appears as "Wiluelai" in the Domesday Book, and the place in Somerset was first entered as "Wilege" and "Wllega", also in the Domesday Book. The modern surname can be found as Woolley, Wooley and Wolley. Among the Church Recordings in Yorkshire are the marriages of Richard Woolley and Mary Tyngle on September 13th 1578 at Rotherham, and of Thomas Woolley and Alicia Skargell on October 13th 1583 at Sheffield. A Coat of Arms granted to the Woolley family is a red shield with a fess chequy argent and sable, in base a crescent of the second, the Crest being an eagle proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo de Wuluele, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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