Espley One Name Study

About the study
I started my Espley One-Name study in 2010. In the course of tracing my wife’s family history I realised that Espley is a relatively uncommon name and perhaps an obvious choice for a One-Name study. I have been researching my own ancestry for over 20 years on and off and was ready for a new challenge. I joined the Guild of One-Name Studies at the end of December 2010 and registered the Espley name in March 2011.

Variant names
The registered variants of the name are Epsley and Aspley.

Name origin
The Espley surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is said to be a locational name from the place in Northumberland called Espley. There are also early references to the name in Shropshire. Espley was a small manor, held at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086 by one Walter from Reginald the Sheriff, who in turn held it from Earl Roger. The manor later descended with the FitzAlans as part of their Barony of Oswestry. The subtenants were the de Espleys until c1280-84, when John de Espley conveyed the manor to Sir Odo de Hodenet or William de Hodenet. The site of the medieval manor of Espley is likely to have centred on the site of the modern farm of that name

Name frequency
There has been a steady increase in the Espley population in the UK since the 1841 census. | Census | Espley entries | | 1841 – 108 | | 1851 – 117 | | 1861 – 132 | | 1871 – 176 | | 1881 – 247 | | 1891 – 259 | | 1901 – 334 | | 1911 – 408 |. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) database there were 598 Espleys as of September 2002 – that’s only about 1 in 98,000 of the UK population. This makes it the 9874th most common name in England and Wales.

Distribution of the name
In the 19th century the name was concentrated in three particular areas – Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

I have recorded all of the Espley birth, marriage and death entries from the General Register Office for England and Wales from 1837 to 2005. I will be going on to do the Epsley and Aspley names. I have also recorded all the Espley IGI entries for England and have started to transcribe the UK census records. I know that there are Espley’€™s in New Zealand, Australia and Canada so I will be doing overseas research in the future. There may well be some name transcription errors in the GRO indexes and the census returns that I haven’t picked up yet – but when I do spot them I always notify or Find My Past of the correct spelling.

You can check out the Guild Of One Name Studies here –

If you have any questions or an Espley enquiry you can contact me via the Guild Of One Name Studies website or by emailing me at


  1. Send me a reply and I’ll send you a photo of Albert Espley’s name on the Thiepval Memorial. Very interested to read about the name. You’re right about it. Hornet Parish records have us there until about the very early 1800s when we moved to Wellington in Shropshire to become butchers. My grandfather was the last of the butchers. He was called Walter.


    1. Hello Andrew – thank for for reading my blog and for your comment. Would love to have a photo of Albert Espley’s name on the Thiepval Memorial. Cheers, Mike


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