A good old Shropshire name – Part 3

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Mytley of old and Mickley of today are indeed one and the same – the index of the calendar of patent rolls which mentions Robert Acheley of Mytley listed the place as “Mickley, Mytley, co. Salop.” But what of Acheley and Aychley?

This second question was answered by the Reverend Robert William Eyton in volume 9 of his Antiquities of Shropshire, published in 1859. Eyton’s research showed that between 1224 and 1234, “Radulf, Lord of Sanford” (Sandford) gave to William, son of Richard de Lake, an assart in Bromlege (Bromley) and “an assart called Evichesleg (Aychley).” The deed or charter recording this transaction was, according to Eyton, “indorsed as Carta de Acheley, showing that Aychley, near Mickley, was the place concerned.” Eyton also shows that between 1240 and 1250, the place name was recorded as Acheleg (while nearby Bletchley was written as Bleggeleg). [1]

So the place now known as Aychley was previously known as Acheley – and variations of that name. In addition to those variants already mentioned, a fine roll record from 1392regarding “a virgate of land in Achesley, co. Salop” almost certainly relates to the same virgate referred to in later such documents as being in Acheley [2]. And a field map of Sandford township based on historical records and tithe maps from the 1800s shows two allotments and an inclosure on “Ocherley Common” – likely a corruption of Acherley Common – close to the spot where Aychley Farm now stands [3].

Aychley, as we now call it, is and always has been a small place. The Ordnance Survey map of the area published in 1833 (see the extract above) does not show Aychley Farm (indicating that the farm is a relatively modern development): the name is placed by the buildings shown on modern maps as Aychley Cottages [4]. Back in 30 Henry VI (about 1452) Acheley, in “Sandeford maner,” consisted of one water mill, one messuage, two carucates of land and 20 acres of woodland [5]. Could this be the place where a Salopian family lived and from which they took their family name, a family which against all the odds perpetuated that name over the centuries right up to the present day?

I think it is. So far, it is the only place bearing a resemblance to Atcherley and Acherley that I have found which has clearly had people named after it, people who lived around the time of Hugh de Atcherley of Shrewsbury and Stanwardine at the beginning of the 1400s – and people who lived (and died) before that time…

On 4 July 1373 Adam ‘of the Were’ was pardoned of the king’s suit for the death of one Thomas de Achesley, because the king heard that Adam acted in self defence [6]. Just a few years before this, on 13 January 1365, Thomas de Achesley, chaplain, and his brother William de Achesley were both pardoned “of the king’s suit for the death of Roger de Pulesdon” who probably hailed from Puleston near Newport in Shropshire [7]. Between the dates of these pardons, on 17 Feb 1370, Richard de Acherleye was a witness to the completion of two documents relating to land in “Walleford” (Walford, Baschurch parish), both of which involved Richard Horde (or Hord) of Walleford [8]. (Might Richard Horde have been the Richard le Hore named in the fine roll of 1403, in connection with that virgate of land in Acheley?)

Going further back, we find that on 10 November 1347 Robert de Acheslegh and Hugh de Acheleye (along with others including John de Pulesdon) made statements upon oath at an inquisition held at Newport regarding the hamlet of “Sonfort” (Sandford) [9], while Radulph de Achesley and Thomas de Achesley were mentioned in manuscripts relating to Shavington (about 6 kilometres north-east of Aychley) in 1340 [10], and on 24 June 1346 Richard de Eyton, vicar of the church of “Baschirche,” was pardoned of the king’s suit for the death of William de Achesleye [11].

Returning to the Reverend Robert William Eyton (a descendant of Richard de Eyton?) and his ninth volume of Antiquities of Shropshire provides us with an even earlier record of the family of Achesleye. On 19 July 1320 Hugh and Robin, sons of Robert de Achesleye, in exchange for 9 merks and a rent of five shillings and fourpence, were left a parcel of land called Hethihalst (a name which may have referred to a tract of low heathland) in Sandford manor by Richard, the lord of that manor.

Robert de Achesleye, father of Hugh and Robin, must have been born in the latter half of 1200s. I wonder if he was a son of the earliest member of this family I have so far been able to find: William de Achesleg’ of Blecchel’ (Bletchley), who was leased by Sir Robert Corbet of Morton “a messuage in the vill of Blech’ [and] a plot of land called le Lonegraven” for a term of 20 years from 26 May 1285 [12].

Was this William descended from the “Willelmus Achilles” (or Willelmus Achill’ as the name was also written) whose land holding was recorded in the Liber Feodorum (or Testa de Nevill) in 1242 as decimam partem feodi in Dodelebur’ [13] (a tenth part of a knight’s fee in what is now Diddlesbury)? I suspect not. Were either of these men ancestors of the families bearing the surnames Achelley, Acheley, Atcheley, Atchley, Atchly or Achley in south Shropshire and the London area? At this point, I don’t have enough evidence upon which to base an opinion. And were either of these men of Norman origin? Again, I must reserve judgement.

I do however believe that the Atcherley name and the people who bore it can be traced back to the 13th century and the place now known as Aychley. The family may or may not have had Norman ancestry prior to that time. But the appellation they first adopted from their Salopian residence more than 800 years ago means that today’s Atcherleys are indeed “of a good old Shropshire name.”

Picture credit. Extract from Ordnance Survey map printed in 1833. This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. It is used under a Creative Commons licence.


[1] Robert William Eyton (1859), The Antiquities of Shropshire. Volume IX, pages 225264 and 235.
[2] Calendar of the fine rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. Volume XI, page 63.(Alternative link.)
[3] Field name map of Sandford in Prees. At: Secret Shropshire (website). [Website no longer online. The URL for this page was at http://www.search.secretshropshire.org.uk/engine/resource/default.asp?txtKeywords=&lstContext=&lstResourceType=&lstExhibitionType=&chkPurchaseVisible=&txtDateFrom=&txtDateTo=&originator=%2Fengine%2Fsearch%2Fdefault_hndlr.asp&page=8&records=9840&direction=1&pointer=12929&text=1&resource=4767]
[4] Cassini Historical Map, Old Series, sheet 127: Stafford & Telford.
[5] Calendarium inquisitionum post mortem sive escaetarum. Volume IV, page 250.
[6] Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. Edward III. Volume XV. 1370-1374. Page 329. (Alternative link.)
[7] Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. Edward III. Volume 13, pages 57 and 62. (Alternative links: pages 57 and 62.)
[8] Shropshire Archives, Walford Manor Collection, item 286/32A.
[9] W G D Fletcher (1906): Sir Richard de Sandford, of Sandford, Knight, 1306-1347. In: Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 3rd series, volume VI, part II, page 164.
[10] Henry D Harrod (1891), The History of Shavington, in the County of Salop.
[11] Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. Edward III.Volume VII, page 131.
[12] Shropshire Archives, Corser Collection: item 2919/2/5.
[13] Liber Feodorum, the book of fees. Part I, pages 965 and 973.