Bearlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Bearlay is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in the county of Hertfordshire, where they took their name from the parish of Barley. This parish dates back to Saxon times when it known as Beranlei c. 1050. By the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, it was known as Berlai and probably meant "woodland clearing of a man called Be(o)ra," from the Old Egnlish personal name + "leah." [1]

The township of Barley in Lancashire dates back to at least 1324 when it was known as Baylegh. [1] It has a similar origin but in early days had a different spelling.

Early Origins of the Bearlay family

The surname Bearlay was first found in Herefordshire where the Saxon name Leofric de Berle was recorded c. 975. [2] In Warwickshire, Jordan Barlie was listed there in the Assize Rolls for 1221. In Cambridgeshire, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 include William de Berele. [3]

According to Reaney, Barleyman is an interesting variant. It is a "metonymy for a maker or seller of barley-bread or cakes." and in this case, Josce Barlibred who was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Norfolk for 1185 is the first entry. [2]

Early History of the Bearlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bearlay research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1591, 1451, 1521, 1501, 1466, 1487, 1529, 1529, 1557, 1565 and 1614 are included under the topic Early Bearlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bearlay Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Bearlay has been spelled many different ways, including Barley, Barly, Barely, Barle, Barlay and others.

Early Notables of the Bearlay family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include William Barley (1451-1521) of Albury, Hertfordshire. He was attainted of treason for his support of Perkin Warbeck and lost all his lands. Pardoned in 1501, he was once again in possession of his lands, including the manors of Wicken, Elsenham, Albury, Wickhamstead and Moulsham. he was High Sheriff of...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bearlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Bearlay family

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Bearlays to arrive in North America: Anthony Barley who settled in Virginia in 1653; Elizabeth Barley settled in Barbados in 1654; Michael Barle arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1751.



  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


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