Origins of the Surname

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Origins of the Name

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According to The Dictionary of British Surnames by Reaney & Wilson (1997 Oxford University Press), Catley or Cattley:

William de Chateleia 1148 Winton Hampshire; John de Catteley 1275 SRWo; William de Cattele 1339 Coroners Rolls, London. From Catley in Herefordshire or Catley in Lincolnshire or Catlees, a tenement in Froyle, Hampshire.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names simply says Catley (Herefordshire) "Wild-cat wood".

Please send in any other references to the Catley surname or place name that you come across.

John Catley of Telford informed me:

There was a Gilbertine priory of St. Mary, Catley, Lincolnshire, which was founded between 1148 and 1154 by Peter of Billinghay. He endowed the whole island of Catley, the site of a grange and some arable land at Walcote; the church of Billinghay and the chapel of Walcote; pasturage for 400 sheep in the two townships, and rights of fishing on Walcote marsh.

Tim Cattley of Shropshire has commented: "The monasticon indicates that the Gilbertine House was spelled Catthley or Catthela and so I do not accept the automatic acceptance that this has anything to do with wild cats. Everything is most fluid as far as I am concerned re formation of our name and the obvious thing is the phonetic interpretation by Monks, Scribes and Clergy at the time."

Phil Clements of Midsomer Norton, Somerset has informed me that Agnete de Cattlyne is mentioned in Lay Subsidy Returns of 1327 for Welweton (Welton); and the 1670 Hearth Tax Certificates show that Tything of Welton 18 November 1670 Thomas Catlee of the hill.


Tim Cattley remarked:

A number of the Cattley trees proudly boast "a Crest" and mine is one. Some families show a cat rampant with front paws on the wooden cross member of a vertical anchor. My tree is one of the latter."

"My research with the College of Heralds in London indicates that there are NO Cat(t)ley crests that have been officially awarded, AT ANY TIME IN HISTORY. What often happened in the mid 1800's was that "monied families" decided to award themselves a crest quite unofficially using regular Heraldic forms and it seems that the Cattley's were no exception!"

It is interesting to note, that a William Catley who was residing in London at the time of the 1881 Census, gives his profession as Heraldic Artist; perhaps this is the creator of one or more of the unofficial arms in existence.