Show ContentsBley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Bley originated in Cornwall, a region of southwest England that is celebrated in the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Nickname surnames were rare among the Cornish, they did occasionally adopt names that reflected the physical characteristics or other attributes of the original bearer of the name. The name Bley is a nickname type of surname for a gentle or merry person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word blide, of the same meaning.

Early Origins of the Bley family

The surname Bley was first found in Cornwall and Devon, where the name could also have been derived from the Cornish "blyth" as in blyth wolf. 1

The "Blighs have been settled in Cornwall from the Norman Conquest to the present time. Norden mentions a branch of this family as residing in his time at Botaden in South Petherwin, in which house their arms still remain. When the Duke of Norfolk held a session of heraldry in this county, the Blighs resided at Bodmin. The Earl of Darnley is a branch of this family. The late John Bligh, Esq. and Admiral Bligh, are descended from the same common stock." 2

Another early records of the family include: Gilbert de Blie, who listed in the Pipe Rolls (of Nottinghamshire in 1200. 1

Early History of the Bley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bley research. Another 165 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1505, 1558, 1588, 1600, 1610, 1615, 1619, 1646, 1654, 1685, 1687, 1692, 1693, 1695, 1699, 1703, 1710, 1723, 1725, 1728 and 1775 are included under the topic Early Bley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bley Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Bligh, Blighe, Bly, Blye and others.

Early Notables of the Bley family

More information is included under the topic Early Bley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bley family to Ireland

Some of the Bley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Bley migration to the United States +

Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Bley or a variant listed above:

Bley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Will Bley, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 3
  • Philipp Bley, who arrived in America in 1748 3
  • Johannes Bley, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1750 3
  • Joh Adam Bley, who arrived in America in 1751 3
  • Johann Adam Bley, who landed in America in 1753 3
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • B Bley, who arrived in North America in 1832 3
Bley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Falk Felix Bley, who landed in Alabama in 1922 3

Canada Bley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Joseph Bley, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749

Contemporary Notables of the name Bley (post 1700) +

  • Carla Bley (1936-2023), born Lovella May Borg, an American jazz composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader
  • Carla Bley (b. 1936), American jazz composer, pianist, organist and band leader
  • Hyman Paul Bley CM (1932-2016), Canadian jazz pianist
  • João Punaro Bley (1900-1983), Brazilian military and public administrator
  • Paul Bley (b. 1932), Canadian free jazz pianist

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook