This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from either Cleveley in Lancashire, recorded as "Cliueleye" in the 1180 Cockersand Chartularly, or from Cleveley in Oxfordshire, recorded as "Clivelai" in the 1210 Feet of Fines. Both placenames share the same meaning and derivation, which is the Olde English pre 7th Century "clif", slope, bank, cliff, and "leah", a wood, clearing; hence, "wood by a cliff slope". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people of often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Clevely, Cleveley, Cleverly and Cleverley. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Robert Cleevley and Ellen Fostar on October 29th 1587, at St. Dunstan's in the East, and the marriage of Thomas Cleverley and Johanna Warde on February 7th 1607, at Edmonton. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts two black chevrons each charged with five gold horse nails on a silver shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Clyveleye, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "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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