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Keighley/Utley History

Keighley in the Domes day Book
By Ian Dewhirst

CYHHA, an Old English thane passed otherwise into oblivion, had cultivated a forest clearing and given his name to what we now call Keighley. This the Norman clerks found, whilst compiling William the Conqueror's Domes day Book in 1086: "In Chichelai, Ulchel, and Thole, and Ravensuar, and William had six carucates to be taxed".

We are indebted to those Normans for our first written record of the district. The Saxon landscape they surveyed emerges sketchily, its heavily wooded valleys dotted with clearings (-ley and -thwaite place-names).

Land was measured by the carucate, traditionally the extent that could be cultivated with one plough and eight oxen in one year - upward of 120 acres, by a probably generous local estimate.

In Utley (Utta's clearing). one William was taxed a carucate; William and Gamelbar shared another at Oakworth (oak-tree enclosure). William held carucate at Newsholme (new houses); Ravensuar, two at Laycock (small stream); Ardulf, one at Riddlesden (Rethal's valley) - probably the same Ardulf who, with four carucate at Morton (moorland farmstead), ranked as the locality's biggest landowner; whilst Ernegis had one at Marley (a clearing frequented by martens) and a half at Hainsworth (Hagena's enclosure). "and they are waste", having presumably suffered during the Conqueror's subjection of the North.


*Use of the above with permission from Christopher M. Kelly


More information was found on "The Internet Surname Database:



Last name: Utley

This interesting and unusual surname recorded as Otley, Utley, Uttley, Huttley and Hutley, is of northern English locational origin. It is probably from Utley, a village near the town of Keighley in Yorkshire, but may be from Otlaey as shown below. The component elements of the name are the Olde English pre 7th century personal name Utta or Otta, both meaning riches, plus the word leah, which today is usually found as the suffix ley. This means literally a clearing in a wood, but has the more probable meaning of a farm, and hence Utta's farm. Because of the phonetic similarity, Otley, the small town near the city of Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is also a source of the surname. Otley is recorded as Ottanlege in the early Yorkshire charters list dated 1030 a.d., and as Othelai in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. The place name again translates as Otta's farm. Early examples of recordings taken from Yorkshire church registers include that on August 15th 1548, of Roger Ottlay and Margaret Nodder who were married at Rotherham, Ann Utley, who was christened at Heptonstall on June 11th 1556, and Mary Huttley, who was christened at St Giles Cripplegate, city of London, on April 26th 1698. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Hotlay. This was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11nd, known as Richard of Bordeaux, 1377 - 1399.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2016

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Pictures from Keighley, Utley & Surrounding Areas with permission from Christopher M. Kelly

Cliffe Castle Gate

Utley Cemetery

Utley Cemetery Butterfield Vault

Utley Cemetery Old Mortuary

Utley Cemetery Office

Utley News Agent

Utley Post Office

Utley St. Mark Church

More Pictures Coming Soon.


Origin of the Surname Utley

(Excerpt from the Book  "Descendants of William Utley and Elizabeth Turner, by C. Joan Brink)

In ancient times much importance was attached to the significance of a name and great care was exercised in the selection of the names for the members of the family.  The name "Jacob" means supplanter. "Richard of the Lion Heart" was not accidently chosen as the name of the historical character who bore it. The Indians appreciated this matter, and so we have such names as "Indian Man Afraid of Nothing", "Rain in the Face", "Sitting Bull", and so on.

The origin of the name "Utley" is veiled in mystery, but genealogists have a theory that seems reasonable. Gentry's "Family Names", published in 1892, lists the name "Utley" as derived from the Anglo-Saxon "UTT",  meaning "OUT", "WITHOUT", "AB ROAD",  and "LIC", meaning "LIKE". Hence, the name "UTTLEY" means "OUTLIKE", "WITH-OUT-LIKE", "BROAD-LIKE", depending on the sense the term is used in a given case.

In A Dictionary of Surnames, by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, published by Oxford University Press in 1988, Utley is listed as derived from a habitation name in Yorkshire, near Keighley, and noted that it came from the Old English personal (given) name Utta (of uncertain origins) plus the Old English "leah" (wood, clearing). Uttley is given as a variant spelling.

Francis M. Smith, a noted genealogist whose pen name is Elenor Lexington, has made a considerable study of the name which now bears the form "UTLEY". According to her, "UTLEYING" is the only name in current (at that time) authorities on names that is anything like "UTLEY". She says that it may be through varying changes that the name "UTLEY" came from the name "UTLEYING" as that is an old family name. "UTTERMARE" she says, is also given as a word that comes from the French word "D'OUTRE", meaning "BEYOND" and "MER" meaning "SEA" in making out the meaning of the name which refers to "PEOPLE FROM BEYOND THE SEAS", referring no doubt, to the land across the English Channel - Normandy - from which came William the Conqueror to England in the 11th century. In English, the word "D'OUTRE" becomes "UTTER" and "MER" becomes "MARE", thus making the name "UTTERMARE", meaning  "BEYOND THE SEAS", and this term was originally applied in Great Britain to a Frenchman who came across the channel into England. The word "UTTERMARE" thus came to mean a foreigner. The name "UTLEY" possibly goes back to this derivation. In County Somerset, England, is found the name "UTLYING", while in Suffolk and Norfolk are found the names "UTHER" and "UTKER", both being family names.

Dr. Harry Gibbons Utley of Gastonia, North Carolina, says that when he was a boy, he often heard his father relate a tradition to the effect that the progenitors of the UTLEY'S came to the Anglican shores with William the Conqueror and settled on one of the outlying islands that line the coast of the English Channel and that because of this fact the tribe was called "OUTERLES" and eventually "UTLEY".

The above was copied from the records of Rev. Chas. H. Utley and was written by J. S. Utley, of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1932.









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