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Down in the Valley


What do Robert E. Lee, Jayne Meadows and Vivian Leigh have incommon? Their last name means a grassland or a clearing in the woods, also known as a lea. Dozens upon dozens of English names ending in "ley" come from some kind of meadow or nearby woods where ancestors lived.

A broad lea produced Bradley; a long one, Langley; a high one, Healey; a black one, Blakeley; a gray one, Greeley; a red one, Raley or Raleigh; a west one, Wesley; an acre's worth, Ackerley; a royal one, Kingsley; a public one, Manley; one belonging to the shire, Shirley; one for hunters, Huntley; the edge of one, Brinkley.

A meadow with beavers produced Beverley; with bees, Beasley; with deer, Buckley; with hares, Harley; with sheep, Shipley; with stones, Stanley; with a church, Kirkley; with a priest, Presley or Priestly; with ash trees, Ashley; with oaks, Oakley and Ackley; with fluttering aspens, Waverly; with birches, Berkeley (alias Barclay); near a ridge, Wrigley; enclosed, Yardley.

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