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The Battle Abbey Roll


William  I of England (William the Conqueror) ordered that an Abbey be built on the site of the Battle of Hastings that took place on Saturday 14th October 1066. The building of the Abbey was undertaken as an act of penance, ordered by Pope Alexander II in 1070 for the deaths of so many people during the Norman Conquest. The Abbey church was completed in 1094.


 A list was produced and kept at the Abbey of those people who fought along side  William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and is that list is known as the 'Battle Abbey Roll'.  The original Roll has long since lost,  however a number of supposed copies were produced at a later date.

 The accuracy of these copies is questioned because there are significant differences between the names on each list and the  belief that Saxon families who held positions of influence in Norman England 'arranged' for their names to be added to the Battle Abbey Rolls to try and show that they had a Norman origin.

 The table below shows in which of the copies of the 'Battle Abbey Roll'  and other list of the Companions of William the Conqueror in which the Audley family name and other closely related names (Touchet; Verdon; Sneyd; and Stanley). occur.


"The Battle Abbey Roll" in the Auchinleck Manuscript.  This document originallypublished in the 1330s ad is kept in the National Library of Scotland.

 Link to Auchinleck manuscript


In this document there is no reference to Stanley or Sneyd


 Leland Copy 

produced 16th centrury

a supposed copy of the Battle Abbey Roll

(see note 1)

 In this version the names are in pairs and contains the following:

  • Audel et Aungeloun
  • Tuchet et Trussell
  • Vallonis et Vernoun
  • Vernoun et Waterville

There is no reference to Sneyd or Stanley, Verdon or Verdoune

  Holinshed Copy 

produced 16th centrury

a supposed copy of the Battle Abbey Roll

(see note 1)

 This list contains the following

  • Audeley
  • Tuchet
  • Verdoune

There is no Sneyd or Stanley

   Duchesne Copy 

produced 16th centrury

a supposed copy of the Battle Abbey Roll

(see note 1)

 This list contains the following
  • Audeley
  • Tuchet
  • Verdon

There is no Sneyd or Stanley


Dives Roll

This list was produced in 1866 and set up in the Church at Dives Sur Mer by Leopold Delisle

(see note 1)

Contains the names:

  • Richer d’Andeli

  • Guillaume d’Audrieu

  • De Touchet

  • Bertran de Verdun

There is no Sneyd or Stanley


Falaise Ross

Produced in Normandy in 1931


Contains the Names:

  • Le Sire de Touchet
  • Bertran de Verdun

There is no Audley, Sneyd or Stanley

  (Note 1) These 4 lists have been taken from 'The Battle Abbey Roll with some account of of the Norman Lineages (3 volumes) by The Duchess of Cleveland and published in 1889. A summary of this document, relevant to the Audley Family can be see  by selecting the link below

pdf  Summary of the Duchess of Cleveland's publication

The only universally accepted list of the companions of William the conqueror contain 15 names with 6 additional names. This list can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companions_of_William_the_Conqueror

In conclusion the admnistrator of www,audleyfamilyhistory.com  believes that the Audley surname is of Saxon rather than Norman origin.

For other reading on the Battle Abbey Roll see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Abbey_Roll


Similar Surnames

 In undertaking research into the History of the Audley surname it became clear that in numerous instances the Audley surname has been either misrecorded in the original documents or mistranscribed when records have been indexed into moden family history websites. In trying to understand  the range of surnames I should be looking at to find misrecorded Audley records it became clear that there are twenty three valid surnames, which are similar to the Audley surname and with which confusion in recording events could have occurred.

Some of these surnames are more frequently recorded than the Audley surname and others are less frequent. The following 3 charts shows the relative frequency of these twenty three surnames compared to the Audley surname. The frequency of use of these surnames is based on the number of times each of these surnames is recorded in the General Register Office, birth, marriage and death indexes for the period 1837 to 1999 inclusive. It should be noted that the frequency scales are different on the following charts.


Of the above 23 surnames (excluding the Audley surname) 5 of them also share the same name as a village or a town as shown in the table below:

   Surname  Location of village or town, with the same name as the Surname, in relation to the village of Audley in Staffordshire
   Handley  Handley is 26 miles to the west of Audley
   Dudley  Dudley is 54 miles to the south of Audley
   Adderley  Adderley is 16 miles to the south west of Audley
  Ardley Ardley is 111 miles south east of Audley
  Alderley Alderley is 126 miles to the south of Audley

A more detailed anaysis of these figures can be found in the following file:

 pdf    Analysis of the frequency of similar surnames to the Audley Surname

Distribution of Audley Surname


The maps below show the distribution of Audleys in the 1841 & 1851 censuses of England. The larger the circle the larger the number of Audleys at that location.

The data for these maps have been taken from the Ancestry website without any additional checking.
  1841censusAudley   1881censusaudley
  The Distribution of the Audley Surname in the 1841 Census of England (173 persons)   The Distribution of the Audley Surname in the 1881 Census of England (284 persons)

Distribution of Audley & Audsley Surname


The maps below show the distribution of the Audley and the Audsley surname in both the 1841 and the 1881 censuses of England. The data that was used to produce these distribution maps is taken directly from the Ancestry Website transcription data without any further checking.

Whilst there appears to be a similar number of people with the Audley and Audsley  surname in both Censuses (1841 census: 174 Audley; 160 Audsley; 1881 census: 284 Audley; 294 Audsley) the Audley family members (red circles) appear to have a much wider distribution than the Audsley family members (blue squares) who appear to have remained in a small area of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

The members of the Audley family living in West Yorkshire by 1881 appear to have moved  to the West Riding of Yorkshire from Norfolk, Warwickshire, and Huntingdon. Conversely by 1881 there was one Audsley family Living in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, and another Audsley family across the River Mersey in Tranmere, Cheshire.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Audley and Audsley surname share a common origin.
  1841censusAudleyAudsley   1881censusAudleyAudsley
  The Distribution of the Audley Surname (red circles) and the Audsley Surname (blue squares) in the 1841 Census of England    The Distribution of the Audley Surname (red circles) and the Audsley Surname (blue squares) in the 1881 Census of England  

Origin of Surname

This page of the website records the origins of the Audley and other similar surnames as recorded in various publications and documents. At some stage in the future I hope this page to come to a conclusion regarding the origin of the Audley surname.

This page considers:

      • Whether the Audley Surname is of Norman or Anglo-Saxon Origin
      • Whether The Audley Surname in Ireland shares a commom Origin to the Audley surname in Ireland.

The information on this page is based upon:

      • The Doomsday Book
      • The Battle Abbey Rolls
      • Surname Dictionaries
      • The variation of the spelling of the Audley surname from 1068
      • The research of Mr Richard Sneyd
      • Other sources of information

It is probable that The Audley surname is a locational surname (i.e originating from a place). It is therefore possible that there is no single common ancestor for all those people who today have the Audley surname. It is unlikely that documentary evidence will be found to link together all the Audley Families on the family tree page of this website. DNA testing of the different branches of the Audley Family may prove or disprove the existence of a common Audley Ancestor.

If you have any alternative or similar suggestions as to the origin of these surnames please submit them to the website through he contact page.

The Doomsday BookThere is a separate page on the website about the Doomsday book The conclusions of that page are:

1.        The village of Audley was in existence by 1086. This suggests that the village predates 1066 but gives no indication as to whether the name of the village was changes as a result of the Norman invasion.


2. There is only one place in the Doomsday book called Audley (even though it was spelt Aldidlege). It can therefore be concluded that the Audley surname had developed from this single village. Currently in England there are 5 other places with Audley in their name, it is concluded that those places were named after a person called Audley. It should be noted that although there is single locational source for the Audley surname this does not necessarily mean that that all people with the Audley surname share a Common ancestor. For example a number of unrelated people who lived in the village of Audley could have been styled as ‘of Audley’ which in time reduced to the surname Audley.

. P H Reaney in his dictionary of English Surnames proposes that the origin of the Audley name is Old English suggesting that the name is of Saxon origin rather than Norman origin. From this one can conclude that comments such as:


  The Battle Abbey Rolls

King William I of England (aka William the Conqueror) instructed that an Abbey be built on the site of the Battle of Hastings. The Battle Abbey Roll was reputedly a list of all the knights that fought alongside William at the Battle of Hastings. The original roll has long since been lost, however a number of people claim to have made copies of the Battle Abbey Roll, even though no two are the same. The general opinion is that the copies of the Battle Abbey Roll can not be considered a reliable document.

The following copies of the Battle Abbet Rolls indicate that an Audley fought alongside William at the Battle of Hastings:

  • Holinshead Roll: has Audeley followed by the name Adgillam
  • Duchesne’s Roll: has Audeley followed by the name Angilliam
  • Leland’s Roll: has Audel et Aungeloun (the names are listed in pairs)

This information is from 'The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineage Vol 1 of 3' (published 1889) of 3 by the Duchess of Cleveland


  'The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineage Vol 1 & 3' (published 1889)  by the Duchess of Cleveland



Volume 1 of the above document states:

Audley: An undeniable interpolation. This name was assumed from the manor of Audley or Aldithley (Aldidelege, Doomsday) in Staffordshire –See Verdon

  Verdon   The following is the last 2 paragraphs from Volume 3 of the above document under the Verdonue (Verdon) Family:

Verdonue: The other house always hitherto assigned to the stock of Verdon is one of the most famous of our baronage – that of Audley. “That the first” says Dugdale “ who assumed this surname was a branch of that ancient and noble family of Verdon, whose chief seat was at Alton castle, in the northern part of Staffordshire, I am very inclined to believe; partly by reason that Henry had the inheritance of Aldithley given him by Nicholas de Verdon who died in the sixteenth of Henry III, or near that time; and partly for that he bore for his arms the same ordinary that Verdon did, viz frette; , but distinguished with a large canton in the dexter part of the shield and thereon a cross pate” This origin is now deniednot withstanding the similarity of the coat of arms, thus left unexplained; and it is at least clear, that Aldithley was not the grant of Nicholas de Verdon. “Aldidelege (Audley) Baltredelez (half Balterby) and Talc (Talke in Audley) all held in 1086 by th Thane Gamel, seem to have come, early in the reign of Henry I., into the hands of the first Adam de Audley, who divided them between his sons, Lydulph and Adam. In 1130 ‘Liulf de Audley” lay under a heavy penalty for the murder of Gamel – Eyton. Adam II was apparently the father of Henry de Audley “ the great territorial acquisionist of the district,” who built the castle of Heighley, and is represented by Dugdale as the first who assumed the name.

I do not therefore feel justified in including the Audleys in this notice, and must reluctantly forbear to give an account of one of my favourite heroes, the Sir James Audley who fought “ as long as his breath served him, in the chief of the battle” at Poictiers. He had vowed that whenever the King or one of his sons should be present on the field, he “ would be one of the first setters-on, or else die in the pain,” and so well did he keep his word, that he was praised and rewarded by the Black Prince as the “best doer in arms” that day. The names of his four squires, to whom he instantly transferred the Prince’s bounty, declaring “ That honour I have, is by their valiantness,” though not given by Froissart, have been preserved in Cheshire tradition. They were Sir Robert Fouleshurst, Sir Thomas Dutton (Sheriff of the county), Sir John Delves and Sir John Hawkestone. All of them bore the Audley fret on some part of their coat of arms.

* “There are very few noble families whose early history has suffered worse at the hands of genealogists than the family of Audley. Dugdale’s Baronage, a splendid work, but from its very nature occasionally inaccurate, has been followed with such servility that his error, by constant repetition, have almost acquired the sacredness of truth” – Castles of Herefordshire and their Lords by C. J. Robinson

   ‘A Survey and Analysis of the Place- Names of Staffordshire’ by David Horovitz,LL.B. Thesis submitted to the University of Nottingham for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, October 2003. http://etheses.nottingham.ac.uk/1557/

AUDLEY Ancient Parish 4V2 miles north-west of Newcastle-under-Lyme (SJ 7950). Has been recorded with the following various spellings in the years stated:

 Aldidelege 1086,

( Source Doomsday Book)


Aldedeslega 1130

(Source SHC I 3; Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Aldithelega 1182

(Source The Staffordshire Pipe Rolls 1155-1216, ed RW Eyton, SHC I & II, 1880-81; The PipeRoll Soc., in progress; The PipeRolls (RC), 3 vols,1833-44; TheGreat Roll of the Pipe for 26 Henry 3, ed. Cannon 1918)


Aldedalega 1185

(Source SHC I 121, Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Aldithlege, Aldithleia 12th century

(Source Duignan W.H. (1902) Notes on Staffordshire Place-Names, London&New York: Henry Frowde)


Aldithelee c. 1235

(Source Rees 1997: 68;Rees U (ed) The Cartulary of Lilleshall Abbey, Shrewsbury:Shropshire Archaelogical Society & University of Wales Press)


Auditheleg' 1242

Source Fees,


Auddedelegh, Audedeleye 1271

(source SHC V (i) 152; Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Audeyeleg 1272

(Source SHC XI NS 242; Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Aldithlegh 1679

(Source SHC 1926 215;(SHC= Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


'The Leah of Aldgyp', an OE feminine name. (see below) Stratton Audley in Oxfordshire takes the second part of its name from a family who probably came from this place.

Leah' a wood, woodland, a rough open space or clearing in a wood, a glade; woodland clearing, especially one used for pasture or arable', and later'a piece of open land, a meadow. A very common element, giving the endings -ley, -leigh, -le.

 Personal names found in Staffordshire place-names

Although masculine forms are generally given in the place-name entries, it is in many cases impossible to distinguish masculine and feminine personal names in place-names. The following list gives masculine names, with certain feminine names marked (f)

 Aldgyp (f) OE Audley. 

   Heleigh     HEIGHLEY. HEIGHLEY CASTLE 4.5 miles west of Newcastle-under-Lyme (SJ 7747, SJ 7746).

 Heolla 1086

(source DB,DB =Doomsday Book)


Helyh (Castle) 1227

(source Ch, Ch= Cheshire)


Heleye 1273

(source Ipm, Ipm = Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem (PRO), in progress;Inquisitions post mortem 1223-1366, SHC 1911,1913 unpublished Inquisitions post mortem in PRO


Heleye 1274

(source SHC 1911 160, SHC= Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Heley c. 1540

(source Leland, Leland = Toulmin Smith 1906 –10) [ Toulmin Smith L (ed 1906-10) The Itinerary of John Leland London 1906-10, London Centaur Press (reprinted 1964)]


Helay Castle c. 1565

(source SHC 1938 113, SHC= Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Heyley 1587

(source SHC XV 182,SHC= Staffordshire Historical Collection formerly Transactions of the William Salt Archaeological Society)


Heyley Castle 1686

(source Plot. = Plot,R (1686 The Nauural History of Staffordshire, Oxford: The theatre(and Browne’s map of 1682 in that volume)


Perhaps from OE heah-leah,'high clearing or wood', notwithstanding the DB spelling - the place lies at a pronounced hill. A hybrid name incorporating Welsh heol 'a road, a way' is unlikely, but not impossible.


Behind the name (the etymology and history of first names)www.behindthename.com


AUDLEY Gender: Masculine Usage: English

From a surname which was taken from a place name meaning “EALDGYD’s clearing" in Old English

ALDITH Gender: Feminine Usage: Medieval ; Medieval form of EALDGYD

EALDGYD Gender: Feminine Usage: Anglo- Saxon Derived from Old English Elements eald ‘old’ and ‘gyo’ battle’

  A dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney
  Audley   English: habitation name from a place in Staffordshire so called from the Old English female name Ealdgyd (composed of eald meaning old+ gyd meaning battle) + Old English leah meaning wood, clearing
  Audsley   English: habitation name from an unidentified place (probably in Yorkshire, where the surname is most common), so called from the general case of an Old English personal name with the first (e)ald meaning old + Old English leah meaning wood, clearing
  The Notes from the Research by Mr Richard Sneyd into the origin of the Aldithley (Audley) Sneyd and Stanley Families - copy of Mr Richard Sneyd's notes are contained within the published information section of this website

 Mr Richard Sneyd in his research proposes that

  •  the Aldithley (Audley), Sneyd and Stanley surnames have a common ancestor and can be traced back to Leofwine, (c 950 to c1023) an Ealderman of the Hwicce in Mercia.
  • Leofwine's 2x great grandson William/Adam ( born c1067) was the first individual to be known as 'de Aldithley'.
  • that 2 of the 2x great grandsons of William/Adam de Aldithley (Audley) became William de Stoneley (Stanley) (born 1170) and Richard de Snede (Snyde)

Our Research of Audley


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