This interesting surname of English origin, being a locational name, is a dialectal variant of the hamlet called Cleveley in the parish of Church Eustone, in Oxfordshire, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "clif" meaning "cliff" plus "ey" "an island i.e. a piece of land surrounded by streams". The surname dates back to the late 13th Century, (see below). Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Clevely, Clavy, etc.. One Richard Clevelley married Elizabeth Adkins at St. James, Clerkenwell, London, in 1611. Richard, son of Richard and Dorothy Clavey, was christened on October 26th 1690, at St. Giles Cripplegate, London, and Sarah, daughter of Richard and Dorothy Clavey, was christened on May 11th 1692, at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. One Anne Clavy, daughter of Edward and Mary, was christened on November 10th 1698, at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Clyveleye, which was dated 1273, "The Subsidy Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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