This website contains some of the trees of HAWLEY families I have put together so far. I have many more people and much more info still to be added. If you don't find what you want here please contact me.
LATEST UPDATES: Now that mother's maiden name is available on early birth indexes I am slowly checking early births and adding missing children (who were born and died between the census dates). Bear with me this could take sometime!
Origins of the Hawley Name
Hereditary surnames in England did not come into use until the 13th and 14th centuries, and even then were subject to change - for example an apprentice might take his master surname, a husband might take his wife's family name, particularly if land or title belonged to her.
Even today surnames are customary names and can be changed. A surname change can take place by Deed Poll but this is not necessary - anyone can be called by the name they chose, as long as there is no fraudulent intent it is quite legal to simply inform others that you wish to be known by a different name. It has always been quite common for children to take their stepfather or adoptive father name.
The early spelling of surnames was quite flexible depending on the preference of the scribe. It is also quite common to find people in the 18th and 19th century themselves using more than one spelling of their name.
English surnames fall into 4 categories: location surnames, occupational surnames, relationship surnames and nicknames. HAWLEY is almost certainly a location surname. There are currently two places called Hawley in England, and there may have been more in the past. If you look at the distribution of the HAWLEY surname (see Statistics) then you will find that the name clusters in certain areas of the country and in other areas is not found at all. This indicates that there were several locations giving rise to the surname.
All of this makes it difficult to say with any certainty where an individual HAWLEY gets their name from. All we can do is trace an ancestral line as far back as possible and see if it tends towards one area or another.
Hawley in Hampshire
Hallee, Halely 1248. Possible 'woodland clearing near a hall or large house'. Old English heall + leah. Alternatively the first element may be healh 'nook or corner of land' [From A Dictionary of English Place Names by A D Mills pub. Oxford University Press, 1991]
Hawley in Kent
Hagelei 1086 (Domesday Book) Halgeleg 1203. 'Holy wood or clearing'. Old English halig + leah. [From A Dictionary of English Place Names by A D Mills pub. Oxford University Press, 1991]
Haughley in Suffolk
Hagele c.1040 Hagala 1086 (Domesday Book) 'Wood or clearing with a hedge, or where haws grow' Old English haga + leah.
[From A Dictionary of English Place Names by A D Mills, pub. Oxford University Press, 1991]
Haulay juxta Sheffield in Yorkshire
Locally the Hawley surname is probably from a lost place name in Brightside Bierlow, in the north- eastern part of Sheffield, which means 'clearing near the mound'. It was recorded as Haulay juxta Sheffield in the late 14th century. John Hally was at Pitsmoor (Sheffield) in 1376. Francis, the son of John Hawley was baptised at Sheffield in 1580.
[From The Origins of One Hundred Sheffield Surnames edited by David Hey, pub. The University of Sheffield, 1992]
Allaleigh in Devon
John Hawley of Dartmouth (1340-1408) was reputed to have come to Dartmouth from the small hamlet of Allaleigh, and the name may be derived from there.
[From Dartmouth and its Neighbours by Ray Freeman, by Dart Books, 1990]