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About the study
The name: It is difficult to be precise about the exact meaning of many surnames. However, I favour the theory that the name Lobley is a place name and is made up of two separate words:
'Lob' - meaning a wooded hillside, and
'Ley' - meaning a meadow
The place: The reason I favour the above explanation is that I am almost certain that the origin of the name 'Lobley' lies in North Yorkshire, to the West of Masham, near a hamlet called 'Ilton cum Pott and at a place called 'Lobley Hall'.
The following names are registered as variants and have been used in signature evidence or, by officials, consistently, over a number of years:
Lobbley, Loblay, Lobly, Lubley
The following names are not registered and are considered to be deviants - mis-spellings or names that are inconsistently used by officials:
Labley, Lobeley, Lobberley, Sobley, Tobley, Robley
The following names not registered and are considered to be valid, but separate surnames in their own right:
Loveley, Lovely, Libley, Cobley
Lobley Hall: a ruined 17th Century farmhouse, was built on land called 'Lobley'. This has been identified by a local historian as having been a 'mother village for the area and dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. This is evidenced by the 'lynchets' or remains of ancient field markings on the hillside above the house. I have visited the site on a couple of occasions.
All the earliest references I have to the name are restricted to North Yorkshire, around Wensleydale, from the earliest reference I have in the year 1313 up until the 16th Century.
In 1881, there were around 675 Lobleys (and variants), making it the 5,906th most popular name in the UK.
in 2002, there were roughly 733 Lobleys in England, Wales and the Isle of Man. This ranks Lobley as the 8,469th most popular name.
Distribution of the name
By the time parish registers started in the mid 16th Century, some Lobley families had moved away from North Yorkshire to other parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire. A few families had even made it as far afield as London, Essex and Gloucestershire. This pattern was repeated throughout the following centuries, with many families following work opportunities in the cities of Bradford and Leeds in West Yorkshire during the industrial revolution.