- This interesting surname of English origin is a locational name from any of the various places called Barley in Lancashire and West Yorkshire deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "bar" meaning "wild boar" or "boer" meaning "barley", plus "leah" "wood or clearing". Barley in Hertfordshire derives ir's name from the Old English byname Be(o)ra, from the Old English "bera" meaning "bear". It may also be a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of barley-bread or cakes deriving from the Middle English "barlich, barli" or the Old English "baerlic" meaning "barley". The surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one John Barlie (1221), "The Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire", and John Barlich (1279) "The Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire". London church recordings include Thomas Barley who married Elen Edwards on January 14th 1542, at St. Leonard's, Eastcheap, and Ellis Barley was christened on February 26th 1550, at St. Lawrence Jewry and St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street. One James and Elize Barley, famine emigrants, sailed from Belfast aboard the "Chrisan" bound for New York on May 5th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Barlebred, which was dated 1185, in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.