This is a locational name 'of Pilley' a manor, south of Barnsley in the South Riding of Yorkshire - recorded as Pillei in the Domesday Book (1066 - 1086) and as Pillay in the latter part of the 12th century. The name derives from the Olde English elements 'pil' a post and 'leah' a wood or clearing i.e. a wood where trees for piles were cut down. The form Pilley is first recorded in 1780 when one John Pilley married a Mary Crush in St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes de Pillay (of Tankersley). which was dated 1379 The Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire. during the reign of Richard 11 Richard of Bordeau 1377 - 1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.