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This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place everything about one surname and the variants of that name. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect.
This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from either of the places called "Linley" in Shropshire near Bridgnorth and in Wiltshire. The place in Shropshire is recorded as "Linlee" in the 1166 "Early Charters of Northampstonshire", and the place in Wiltshire as "Linleg" in the 1225 Hundred Rolls of that county. The name means "clearing where flax was grown", derived from the Old English pre 7th Century elements "lin", flax, with "leah", glade, clearing in a wood, thin wood. In some cases the modern surname may derive from any one of the places in Yorkshire called "Lindley", near Otley and near Huddersfield, for instance, which are named from the Old English "lind", lime tree, with "leah" as before; early recordings of these place names appear as "Line", "Linley" and "Lineie", the "d" of the modern place name appearing after the 13th Century. The marriage of Thomas Linley and Elizabeth Starr was recorded at Eaton under Heywood in Shropshire on January 17th 1673. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Linleia, which was dated 1204, in the "Dorsetshire Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.
English : habitational name from either of two places in West Yorkshire called Lindley, or from Linley in Shropshire and Wiltshire, all named from Old English līn ‘flax’ + lēah ‘wood’, ‘glade’, with epenthetic -d-, or from another Lindley in West Yorkshire (near Otley), named in Old English as ‘lime wood’, from lind ‘lime tree’ + lēah ‘woodland clearing’. Lindley in Leicestershire probably also has this origin, and is a further possible source of the surname.German : habitational name from places in Bavaria and Hannover called Lindloh, meaning ‘lime grove’, or a topographic name with the same meaning (see Linde + Loh).
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names