Origin of the Maberly Name

Several theories have been advanced for the origin of the Maberly name.

The most romantic theory claims that the family descended from the de Modburlegh family of what is now the village of Mobberly in Cheshire, England. Lack of documentary evidence in the 13th,14th and 15th centuries makes it impossible to confirm or deny this theory although the de Modburlegh family itself never numbered more than a few people.

A second theory suggests the name is derived from Mapperley, the name of a village on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Again there is no documentary evidence to support or deny this view.

A third theory suggests that the name evolved from the name Mable or Mabel by a process of mutation or gradual change. The Oxford Dictionary of Surnames says the surnames Mabb and Mapp (like the first name Mabel) are derived from the middle English and Old French "amabel" which came in turn from the Latin "amabilis" meaning loveable or likeable. Examples of such mutation are not hard to find, especially at the time when the labouring classes were largely illiterate.

A fourth theory is that the name was imported from France where the surname is commonly found as Mably or Mabille. The Mably family of Cornwall, for instance, believe themselves to be descended from a single shipwrecked French sailor who married into the local community.

The data collected thus far has confirmed the existence of several apparently independent families characterised by geographic location and the different spelling of the name and with no discernable common source. Within these families some variation of the spelling of the name has occurred and in some cases has been perpetuated by succeeding generations e.g. some Mapleys have evolved from Buckinghamshire Mableys, some Cornish Mablys became Mableys when they moved away from Cornwall and the Kentish Maverleys mutated into Moverleys.

At the beginning of the last century there were in England roughly equal numbers of Maberlys, Maberleys and Mabberleys (approx 70 of each) and roughly equal populations of Mablys and Mableys (100+ of each). There was also a healthy population of Mabels and Mables (approx 100 of each). There were however over 200 Mapleys. Only 25 Mapperleys were counted.

The Moverlys, Moverleys, Moberlys, Moberleys, Mobberlys and Mobberleys (some 600 in all) outnumbered their Maberly equivalents by 3 to 1.