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Surname Chesley - Meaning and Origin

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Chesley: What does the surname Chesley mean?

The last name Chesley is an English surname derived from the word chesli, old English for a field with shallow pits or a small valley. It typically indicated where a family had a smallholding, such as a farm, or belonged to a particular tenant. The term was also at times used for more specific locales, such as a wooded or marshy area where the land was not of great quality.

Other variations of the name include Chesapeake and Cheswell.

Chesleys particularly populated in the West Midlands in the nineteenth century, but Chesley families are present throughout the UK, including Lancashire, Norfolk, Kent, and Worcestershire. Records of the name in the American Colonies include early Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania families.

The dropping of the last letter indicates that the bearer is of Norman French origin while use of the -ly ending marks the bearer of Anglo-Saxon descent. The surname is also found throughout other parts of Europe, including Ireland, Scotland, France, and Germany.

In the UK, Chesleys are most concentrated in the Oxford area, as well as in the West Midlands generally, although small numbers are found throughout southern Great Britain and in some parts of North America.

Today, the Chesley family name is found not only across the British Isles but all over the world. From humble beginnings, Chesleys have achieved greatness as unsung heroes and famous celebrities alike.

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Chesley: Where does the name Chesley come from?

The last name Chesley is most commonly found in the American Northeast, particularly in New England. In particular, it is often found in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. The earliest known Chesley in this region appears in the 1850 census for Massachusetts, with a few earlier members appearing in Maine and New Hampshire in the mid-19th century.

Today, the highest concentration of Chesleys can be found in Maine, especially in York County. In this county, there are over 200 Chesleys residing across the 195 towns. Additionally, there is a sizable presence in Pokomot, Windham, and Cumberland counties.

In Massachusetts, the highest concentration is found in Middlesex and Berkshire counties. In Middlesex, there are over 300 Chesleys that spread from Bedford to North Reading. Then, in Berkshire, there are over 100 Chesleys primarily concentrated around the city of Pittsfield.

In New Hampshire, Chesleys can be found primarily in Rockingham and Strafford counties. In Strafford County, the highest concentration of Chesleys is in Dover but there are also smaller pockets spread around the county. In Rockingham County, the majority of Chesleys can be found in the town of Nottingham.

Outside of the Northeast, the name Chesley is most prevalent in California, followed by Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Variations of the surname Chesley

The surname Chesley is a habitational surname derived from the English place name Chesley, which is itself from the Old English “caes” and “leah” meaning “clearing of scratch”. This family name is said to have originated in the county of Shropshire, England.

Variations of this surname include: Cheesley, Chesleigh, Chesly, Cheslie, Cheslye, Chisle, Chisley, Chisleigh, Chislye, and Chislygh.

Alternate spellings for the surname Chesley include: Cheseley, Chesleye, Chesly, Chessley, Chessly, Ishley, Chisley, Chisly, Chisleigh, Cheslegh, Cheslee, Chesleegh, Chisleigh, Chislee, Chisleegh, and Chizleye.

Surnames deriving from the same place name include: Cheshire, Chesley/Cheisly/Chizlette, Cosley, Chisholm, and Checkley.

Chesley may also be a combination of the Olde English personal name Ceoswulf and the Olde English term “lēah”, which means a “clearing”. In this case, the surname would have the same meaning as Chesley: “Clearing of Ceoswulf”. In this scenario, alternate spellings and surnames of the same origin could include: Checksley, Cheesley, Chisley, Chisle, Chiselle, Chisholm, Chesholme, Cheesel, Chessell, and Chizel.

The surname Chesley is a unique and interesting surname, with a variety of spellings, surnames of the same origin, and possible meanings. It is sure to be an interesting research topic for those who are related to this name.

Famous people with the name Chesley

  • Sully Sullenberger: retired airline pilot famously known for saving the lives of 155 people in the “Miracle on the Hudson”.
  • Bill Chesley: Major League Baseball player and coach.
  • Louis Chesley: radio personality and World War II veteran.
  • Bill Chesley Jr.: president of the United States Rodeo Committee.
  • Blair Chesley: actress, producer, and voice-over artist.
  • Bob Chesley: Canadian lawyer and former president of the Ontario Bar Association.
  • Marjorie Chesley: American educator and philanthropist.
  • Nutan Chesley: professional golfer.
  • Peter Chesley: former president of the American Institute of Architects.
  • Ruth Chesley: American lawyer and family court judge.

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