At the time of the Domesday Book, Black and White Notley were listed as one settlement - Notley, as with almost all English villages there is some dispute over the origin of their names and why they were split. One, perhaps unlikely, version is that part of the township (Black Notley) was affected by the Black Death, but those who lived in the other part (White Notley) escaped that plague. Another, It is thought that the difference in names between White and Black Notley stems from the fact that the Churches are some what different in colour. One was constructed in light coloured stone and rubble, which when first built looked very white - situated at White Notley, while the other was coated in tar to protect it's wooden walls from the weather, so the village became Black Notley.
The man who put Black Notley on the map was John Ray, born in 1627 to the wife of the village blacksmith. Ray set himself to put in order man's recordings of his natural surroundings, especially the field of botany. Scholars from all over the world sent specimens for his opinion and advice as he worked on his great book on the history of plants which was published in three volumes between 1686 and 1704, covering some 11,000 species. His system of classification was so good that it continued in use for over 200 years.