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The Comley Family

Ancestors, relations and anything else!

Anything connected to my own family history, and not involving COMLEYs is on a separate page, here.

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I am researching the Comley family and variations of the name. This branch of my family (my mother's maiden name was COMLEY) seem to have originated in Wiltshire but there are other areas nearby, in Gloucestershire and Berkshire/Oxfordshire with large numbers of COMLEYs.

I was told by my mother that her surname was spelled as COMLEY, and not COMELY, as a corruption of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley), but looking back at records, there is no evidence for this. I now believe that the -LEY spelling is probably the oldest, but some branches became -ELY simply because of the way it was recorded by priests and later, registrars. The name has been found as COMLEY, COMELEY, COMELY, COMLY, COMBLY and even (on a birth certificate as the father's name) CRUMBLY! There are even more transcription errors, including, commonly, CORNLEY - an obvious mis-read of rn for m.
In Hampshire, the name seems to have changed to COMLAY in the first half of the 1800s. More on this can be found at Bob Comlay's website.

Ancestry.com has the following:

What does the Comley name mean?
Last Name: Comley
English: habitational name, probably from Comley in Shropshire or Combley on the Isle of Wight; both are named with Old English cumb 'valley' + leah 'woodland clearing'.

As I have found no COMLEYs originating in Shropshire, and only one reference (a will) on the Isle of Wight, the above should be taken with a big pinch of salt!

Oldest Reference
The oldest reference yet found to a COMLEY is in Bristol Record Office. The following is from the Online Catalogue:
Smyth family of Ashton Court
Deeds
Manor of Elmington in Henbury, Gloucestershire.

Level Item
RefNo AC/D/6/8
Title Lease 1) William Champeneys of Aylminton' 2) Edward de Leye two acres and four strips (seillones) of land of which one acre lies in the `cultura' which is called Emenhulle between land of William fitzWarun and of Thomas de Bradewelle and one head extends to the land of lord Richard de Greynvile at Hulkestede and the other to the meadow of Aylminton' and one acre lies at E---brygge ? between meadow of lord Richard de Greynvile and of William fitzWarun' and land of Robert de Bradewelle and one head extends to land of Nicholas de Berewyk' and the other to land of lady Simonda de Oldebury and the four strips lie in the field of Cumptone between land of Nicholas de Berewyk' and of Torephym de Aylminton' and one head extends to the wood of the said William Champeneis; to hold for term of his life paying annually to Wm. and his heirs 2s. at the four usual terms. For this grant Edward gives 7 marks of silver. Clause of warranty against all men and women Witnesses: Robert de Comley Thomas de Styntescumbe Thomas de Amby Nicholas de Berewyk' Walter Randulf of Cumptone.
Date [late 13C.]
AccessStatus Open

Nearly all the names given are in the form 'Someone of Somewhere' so is Comley a place somewhere in what is now North Bristol? It is possible that it is what is now known as Coombe Dingle. Was this once known as Coombe Leigh, reduced to Comley? If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

Otherwise, the earliest references seem to be Gloucestershire, with Wiltshire (and an area near the Gloucestershire border) coming next.

Page updated: 13/08/10