Hope this information is useful to researchers into the Whiteley family

A book on the history of Rochdale dated about 1890 by Henry Fishwick has the following references to the Whiteley family;

In a charter dated mid 1250. Henry son of Henry de le Weteleye gave land at Brotherode in Spotland, Rochdale, to Stanlaw Abbey at Ellsmere Port near Chester. The Ordnance Survey 6” map for 1851 shows a farm at White Lees  in Shawfield, close to Brotherod Hall Road, Spotland.  In another charter c1280 land at Wytelegh in Spotland (Whiteley?) passed from Martin de Spotland to Henry Chadwick, it was then given to the abbots of Stanlawe.

De le Weteleye simply means from Weteleye and is an early example of a surname being taken from a place name, expressed in the Norman/French language of the time.

White Lee comes from the Old English White Leah  or ‘bright woodland clearing’.

Later in 1540 Sir John Byron of Nottingham was given Newstead Abbey just north of the town of Nottingham by Henry V111 as part of his policy of re allocating monastic lands to his followers. 1565 Sir John Byron of made a claim against Cuthbert Scolfield , Robert, Gilbert, & Arthur Whitley relating to land at Holleworth, Rochdale (Hollingworth) where they had built houses while not holding the correct deeds to do so. They would be unable to afford to defend the claim of Sir John and would lose the homes and land. Small freeholders were often dispossessed by larger land owners at this time.

The 1587 will of Richard Crossley of Scaitcliffe Todmorden, mentions his brothers in law George & Randle Whitley, and 1608 Robert Whitely was one of the witnesses who testified to the use of an ancient road over the Troughe from Rosendale to Sowerbie and Eland.  

Brierley Manor near Barnsley Yorkshire held many properties in West Yorkshire. In a rental dated 1662  eight families called Whiteley, all living in the Rishworth,  Barkisland, Soyland area near Halifax paid rent to Brierley Manor. Jessop and James Whiteley were at Barkisland,  Joseph, Arthur, John, Roger, James, and Samuel Whiteley were at Rishworth. It is only five moorland miles from Calderbrook to Rishworth and Barkisland but I know of no connection between the families. The Yorkshire families may have taken their name from a hamlet called White Lee just to the north of Mytholmroyd in upper Calder Dale. The 1861 and 1881 census returns confirm that there was still a high proportion of Whiteley families living in that area. An Ely Whiteley was an enumerator for the 1861 Barkisland area census and Joseph Whiteley aged 29 born in Rishworth was a farmer resident at Rishworth Hall farming 25 acres.

On the 1881 census William Whiteley aged 51 born in Soyland was at the Shepherds Arms Fence Nook Calderbrook. His wife Jane was born in Bury Lancashire as were his children.

A. H.  Smith's  place names of the West Riding of Yorkshire has  24  hamlets and  smaller areas called Whiteley or Whitley all within the  Air, Calder, Don area.  The most likely Yorkshire source of the surname is the large hamlet of  'White Lee' to the north of  river Calder at Mytholmroyd first recorded in the Manor of Wakefield 1371 Court Roll. It is now part of  Mytholmroyd but the name lives on as a small estate called White Lee Gardens. This is only a few miles from Rishworth. There is a White Lee just south of Birstall on Smithies Moor first recorded in a Whitley family deed dated 1677.

I have retained the spellings of Whiteley as they appeared in the documents.

Richard Watson.

These are notes of my own early family.

Mary Whiteley was born, probably in Calderbrook, Littleborough, Rochdale, Lancashire in 1781, her husband Samuel Whiteley had died by 1841. Her children all born at Calderbrook were James in 1818, Alice in 1821, George in 1823, and Thomas in 1841. The family were not wealthy and were employed at a local bleach works.

Her son James Whiteley  born 1818 moved to Bury Lancashire he and his wife Charlotte had three sons all born in Bury, Samuel born 1850, Thomas born, 1853 and James born 1856.

Samuel Whiteley, the son of James, born 1850 and his wife Mary had four children all born in Bury, William born 1875, Charlotte born 1877, Thomas born 1897, and Sarah born 1883

Sarah Whiteley, the daughter of Samuel, married John Driscoll often spelled Driskill which takes the story into another family history.