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The Origin of 'Audley' (page 2)

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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