13th Century Origin of Hedley name in Hedley Township

The Hedleys are a Northumberland Riding (reiving) family.

In brief, all of the ‘Hedleys’ (spelling is important) descend from the inhabitants of Hedley Township, situated to the south of Prudhoe in Northumberland. In the 13th century, William Umfraville, Baron of Prudhoe, resettled many of the inhabitants of Hedley in his barony of Redesdale (roughly the Otterburn-Elsdon area) giving them customary lands in exchange for Border (military) service, i.e. he held the barony on condition that he kept it free of Scots and wolves. Thereafter they were referred to as the de Hedleys, i.e., of Hedley, then simply Hedley. They are the only old Redesdale family not to originate in the dale. Hedley comes from Hedda Leah and is Old English for a clearing or meadow overgrown with heather.

Headley with an ‘a’ means the leah or meadow at the head (of valley, vale, farm, etc.) and the surname originates in the south of England.

Archives of William Percy Hedley, famous Northumbrian genealogist (Northumberland County Records Office, Melton Park, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne) (This item via Ian Hedley)


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page updated Jan. 19, 2009