This is one of the locational surnames which has a truly Olde English origin. It derives from one of the various villages called Chorley in, specifically, Cheshire and Lancashire, or from a place known as "the wood or glade of the freemen", from "ceorl", freeman, plus "leah", thin wood, clearing, glade. The Cheshire village appears in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Cerlere", whilst the Lancashire village was recorded as "Cherleg" in the 1246 Rolls. The surname as Chorley was given to a nameholder when he or she moved to another village, although in some cases the lord of the manor would hold the name of the village. In fact a Coat of Arms was granted to Chorley of Chorley, Lancashire and Staffordshire, being a silver field charged with a red chevron between three blue bottles, with the Crest of a red chapeau, turned up ermine, charged with a silver hawk's head. Examples of the surname recording include: Anne Chorley, who married Matthew Ameson at Marton By Congleton, on February 5th 1641, and Guilelmus Chorley, who was christened at Bebington, Cheshire, on February 8th 1652, in the period of Cromwell's Commonwealth (1649 - 1660). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alize Chorley, which was dated July 25th 1575, marriage to Frances Baxster, at St. Michael's, Macclesfield, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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