Recorded in several forms including Yaxley, and the dialectals Yoakley, Yockley, and Yokley, this is an English surname. It is locational and derives either from the two villages called Yaxley in the counties of Huntingdonshire and Suffolk or from some now "lost" medieval village of a similar origin. Over three thousand British Isles surnames are known to originate from lost villages, so whilst unusual, such an event is not by any means unique. The Cambridgeshire village is recorded in the Saxon Chartulary of 963 a.d. as "Geaceslea", and later as "Iacheslei" in the Domesday Book of 1086, whilst Yaxley in Suffolk appears as "Jacheslea in the Domesday Book. Both places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "Cuckoo wood". Locational surnames were generally "from" names, being usually given to strangers as an easy way of identification, even though they may come from only the next village. Spelling being at best erratic and local accents very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" names. In this case the the surname lists of the diocese of Greater London suggest that Yoakley, Yockley, etc. developed from Yaxley in the 17th century. Early examples of the recordings include the marriage of Symon Yaxley and Elizabeth Croply at Soham, Cambridgeshire, on May 10th 1594, Margaret Yoakley who married James Hird at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on December 29th 1656, and Thomas Yockley, who married Sarah Pocock at St James church, Dukes Place, city of London, on May 9th 1689. The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of Elizabeth Yaxley. This was dated 1543, when she married Thomas Sherman, at Yaxley, in Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry V111 of England, 1509 - 1547. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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