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About the study

This study was commenced in around 1980 following the death of my father, Percy Frederick Dulley, and finding various documents among his papers which sparked off the interest.

Variant names

I have included Dully as an official variant, but others encountered have been Dullie, Dullee, and see below under the Origin of the Surname.

Name origin

Initially I had looked in Reaney'€™s book on surnames which, although it did not list Dulley, gave similar names such as Doll(e)y, Dul(e)y and Doyley, leading to me formulate the theory that Dulley could be a corruption of d'€™Oyley. Using the Victorian County Histories I found that d'€™Oyley originated in Oxford and that there was a great deal of material mentioning this quite famous name in the county, Robert d'€™Oigli having been the first Sheriff of Oxford, building the castle for his King, William. Although he apparently only had a daughter, he was accompanied to England by his brothers Nigel, Wido (Guy) and Ralph from whom all extant d'€™Oylys descend. My initially rather wild ambition was to prove my theory which, to a certain extent so far, I have done in that Robert Dully and Alce (sic) Doylye were very probably the children of Austen Doylye who died in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire in 1563. That Robert and Alce were brother and sister is fairly conclusive in that Robert named his first-born Alce; Austen, or Augustine, is a name which crops up subsequently. Fitting Austen into the Doylyes is work in progress.

Historical occurrences of the name


Distribution of the name

The name, as shown above, was prevalent in Oxfordshire certainly up to the mid 1700s; from Kirtlington they moved into the Oxford city area and my own line went to Wargrave in Berkshire. Subsequently there were moves in various directions, one significant line making a major contribution to life in Wellingborough, Northants, with others going to Surrey and Norfolk, and my own ancestors to Woodley in Berkshire and then to Kensington, London. Worldwide there are instances of Dulleys in the USA, Germany and Australia, with odd mentions elsewhere, and the censuses show a number of people with the variant Dully as having come from Ireland but I suspect these may have a different origin.

Taking the numbers from Ancestry there were 43 Dulleys in the 1841 census for England excluding my own forebears in Kensington where the returns have been lost, with 56 Dullys. The figures for 1851 (48 and 46) are quite suspect with a number of noticeable omissions; in 1861 there are 80 Dulleys and 30 Dullys but 1871 shows 55 Dulleys and an explosion of Dullys to 61 which then drops dramatically to 10 in 1881