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In England, the introduction of family names is generally attributed to the Normans and the Domesday Book of 1086. Documents indicate that surnames were first adopted among the feudal nobility and gentry, and only slowly spread to the other parts of society. Some of the early Norman nobility arriving in England during the Norman Conquest differentiated themselves by affixing 'de' (of) in front of the name of their village in France. This is what is known as a territorial surname, a consequence of feudal landownership. In medieval times in France, such a name indicated lordship, or ownership, of the village. Some early Norman nobles in England chose to drop the French derivations and call themselves instead after their new English holdings. Hereditary Surnames were not universally prevalent and settled in England prior to the era of the Reformation in sixteenth century England. It is conjectured that the introduction of parish registers in 1538 was a great influence in this, as a person entered under one surname at baptism would not be likely to be married under another name, and buried under a third. There is more info here.

Hyatt coat of arms
"Do (work) and hope"

HYATT - In the modern idiom the Hyatt name has at least six spelling variations including: Hyett, Hyet, Hieatt, Highett, Highatt, and Hiett. The most commonly accepted Old English origin of the name HYATT is from Yatt - or In Old English geat/gaet, and in Middle English yatt and zett, which are all recognised now as Hyatt and meaning gate, opening or entrance to woods or land.

Hyatt is a relatively uncommon medieval English surname of residential or locational origins. It normally described somebody who was resident at "the High-Gate", which in this context may refer to the former village of Highgate, in London, or to other places so named, or to living by the high road.

Many local names like Hyatt usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive that word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times has served to name local families.

There is a possibility that the original Norman name may have been 'D' 'Urberville', as the Hyatt-Hiatt coat-of-arms bear the rampant lion of D'Urberville (the 'Lion of England' - which can be borne only by those of royal descent or with the king's permission), to which is added the saw-tooth design (fesse indented) of the D' Abignys, two apparently connected families. (See 'D' Aubigny Turberville' in Ency. Biog.) Moreover, it is suggestive that the Crest of Hyett of Painswick is a castle. (See Tess of the D'Urbervilles, by Thos. Hardy: ' - a ramping lion, and over it a castle', as the D'Urberville Arms.) If this be correct. He would receive a 'place-name' - Roger (D'Urberville) de Ayeatt - to distinguish him from D'Urbervilles of London or some other place, later becoming 'Hyatt', just as Hertburn de Wessyngton (a place-name) became Washington.

Early records of the name mention John atte Hageyate, County Somerset and London in the year 1273. Thomas Hiegat of County Middlesex, registered at Oxford University in the year 1583. Richard Seyman and Elizabeth Hygate, were married in London in 1590. William Higat and Anne Hatchman were married at St. Dionis, Backchurch, London in the year 1651. John Hiott and Isabella Barnes were married at St. Peter, Cornhill in the year 1651. Johne Hechet was the Burgess of Glasgow in 1527, and William Higait was a notary public in 1547, and appears again as Burgess in 1562. William Highgate, town clerk, was charged with using injurious words to a bailie in 1564. Archibald Hiegat was a member of the Scots Parliament in 1586, and Gilbert Heighat was pursued for debt in 1609.

Waskett coat of arms
"Uncorrupted faith and
unvarnished truth"

WASKETT - This intriguing surname is of Old French origin, and is a diminutive of "Wask", the Norman form of the Old French "Gasc", a person from Gascony. The name of the region derives from that of the Basques. Hence the surname is "Wask", as above, plus the diminutive suffix "-ett", hence "Waskett", little Wask.

The name was probably introduced into England in the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century in Essex, while the Assize Court Rolls of Essex mention one John Wasket in 1351. In "A Dictionary of British Surnames", by Percy Hide Reaney and Richard Middlewood Wilson (1958), "Elyas Wasket 1274 RH (Essex); John Wasket 1351 Assizes, Essex. Probably a diminutive of Wask, the Norman form of OFr Gasc 'Gascon'. cf. Fr Gasquet. The same developement appears in Adam Waskin 1276 RH (Db) for Gaskin."

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elyas Wasket (above), which was dated 1274, in the "Hundred Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Edward I (1272-1307). 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. Spelling variations of this family name include: Waskett, Wescot, Waskatt and others.

It was found anciently in Warwickshire where Waskett was seated from very ancient times, and are conjecturally descended from the Wescots of Raddon, before and after the Norman Conquest in 1066. An early edition of "Burke's Peerage" states that: Thomas de Westcote “served the office of escheator of Worcester, 19th Henry VI, 1450". The grandson of St. Leger Wescote was this Thomas Wescote, esquire. He was born on the ancient family estate at Wescote, and according to Prince’s “Devonshire Worthies,” was “born in Wescote, near Barnstaple, and flourished in 1414". Thomas is also mentioned by Lord Coke, who calls him “the king’s servant at court, a gentleman of Devonshire, anciently descended.” He was married about 1400, to Elizabeth, daughter and sole heir of Thomas de Littleton (2nd), lord of the manor of Frankly in Worcestershire, and esquire of the body of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. The family of Littleton, according to Collins’ “Peerage of England” (Vol. VIII, p. 316), had “fair possessions” in the vale of Eversham in the county of Worcester, before 1234, particularly at South Littleton, from which place it is probable they took their name, agreeably to the custom of the age. In 1160, John de Littleton was witness to a grant of land belonging to Eversham Abbey.

Other early examples of the surname include: the christening of Thomas Wasskytt's son on January 11th 1555, at St. Olave's, Southwark, London; the marriage of William Wasket and Joyce Quilter on September 29th 1610, at Great Canfield, Essex; The baptism of William, son of William Waskett & of Susan his Wife on July 30th 1705, at Ongar, Essex, and the marriage of Peter Waskett and Ann Wenham on August 11th 1708, at St. James', Duke's Place, London.

Glass coat of arms
"I struggle but am
not overwhelmed"

GLASS - The ancestors of the first families to use the name Glass lived in ancient Scotland, in the kingdom of Dalriada. The name was then used as a nickname for a person with gray hair. The surname Glass is derived from the Gaelic word glas, which means gray, however, it may also be a shortened Anglicised form of the surname MacGille Glais, which means son of the gray lad. Glass is also recorded from the 16th Century in Scotland, half the lands of Langilculcreich being granted to one Alexander Glass in 1506.

In various documents glass has been spelled phonetically and early records contain an enormous number of spelling variations, Glace, Glase, Glaze, Glas, MacGilleglas, Glasse, Glaize, Glaser, Glasscock, Glasson, Glausier, Glazier, Gleass and one German spelling of Klass is there among many many others...

In middle High German "glas" is an altered form of the personal name Klass, or a reduced form of Nikolaus (or Nicholas).

English and German: metonymic occupational name for a glazier or glass blower, chiefly recorded in the West Midland counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire and is of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "glaes", glass (akin to "glaed", shining, referring originally to the bright shine of the material).

Irish and Scottish: Anglicised form of the epithet glas (gray), (green), (blue) or any of various Gaelic surnames derived from it. Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from German Glass (glass), or a metonymic occupational name for a glazier or glass blower.

The earliest recorded examples of the surname contain the agent suffix "-er", and include: Thomas le Glasyer (Cornwall, 1297), and Robert le Glasiere (Essex, 1327). In "A Dictionary of British Surnames", by Percy Hide Reaney and Richard Middlewood Wilson (1958), Under: Glaisher, Glaysher, Glazyer, Glazier, 1297 MinAcctCo; Robert Le Glasiere 1327 SR (Essex) A derivative of OE gloes 'glass', Glass-Maker.

In its original sense "a man who had to do with", the "-er" designates persons according to their profession or occupation, and a -wright, -wryght or -wryte denoted a person who 'Worked' with something... One Walterus Glassenwryght, and a Robertus de Spalding, glasenwryght, appear in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, their occupations being the making of glass. In the London Sheriffs' Court record of 1320, it records: Roger le Glasiere in mercy for default v. Roger Elis in a plea of trespass.

First found in Buteshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, the first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ricardus Glase: "Ricardus Glase duxit Margeriam Higgons in uxorem" found in the Shropshire Parish Registers, Hereford Vol XII, dated October 11th 1540, in his marriage to Margeriam Higgons at Pontesbury, Shropshire, during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547).

Westcombe coat of arms
"Be quick
without impetuosity"

WESTCOMBE - In the modern idiom the Westcombe name has at least five spelling variations including: Westcombe, Wescombe, Westcome, Westcomb, Wescomb, Wescome (and many more). The name likely derives from the Olde English "West" + "Comb(e)" derived from the Middle English "Combe" (Old English pre 7th Century "Cumb") meaning "a short, straight valley". Another possibility is a habitation name from the hamlet of Westcombe in the parish of Buckland-St-Mary, Somersetshire or from Westcombe, a hamlet in the parish of Batcombe, Somersetshire.

Little can be found about this family, there is nothing notable in the records other than a mention for Joseph Wescomb, born c1650 in Halse, Somersetshire, in "A royal descent from William the Conquerer and William III" by William leach 1907. No other details or dates are listed unfortunately.

In "A dictionary of English surnames" By Percy Hide Reaney, 1958, p482: WESCOMB (v): Westcombe, Wescombe, Westcomb, (i) Henry De Wescombe 1333 - from one of the three Westcombes in Devon. (ii) Thomas atte Westcompte, "Dweller by the West field".

In "The Universal historical dictionary: Volume 2" By George Crabb, 1833, WESTCOMBE (Her.) a family which enjoys a baronetcy, first conferred in 1700 on sir Martin Westcombe, a consul at Cadiz ; the arms, &c. of which are as follow : Arms. Sable, two bars or, and a canton ermine. Crest. Out of a mural coronet or, a griffin's head of the last. Motto. " Festina lente." WESTCOTE (Her.) vide Lyttleton. The Westcombe Baronetcy, of Cadiz in Spain, was a full title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 23 March 1700 for Martin Westcombe. The title became extinct on the death of the second Baronet, Sir Anthony Westcombe, (c. 1708–1752).

In 'Families of Co. Kerry, Ireland' By Michael C. O'Laughlin (1994), Westcombe, a settler family, given on estates near Tralee, from the coming of the Elizabethan undertakers to the rebellion of 1641. Edward Westcombe, Shoemaker, was shot during the siege of Tralee in 1641. Later, in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Ireland, we find William Westcomb (or Wescom) married to Warde, Abigail, in 1683.

The name is first found in Devonshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. This entry is first referenced in the year 1333 when Henry de Westcombe held estates in Devonshire. There is also reference to one John Westcombe on 12 Nov, 1407, who was a patron of Robert llokeway, the new chaplain for Nymet St. George in Devonshire.

John Prince (1643-1723), once vicar of Berry Pomeroy in Devonshire, and author of 'Worthies of Devon', mentions: Martin Westcombe MA (1638). Attended University of Toulouse instead of going to Oxford or Cambridge. He became a Franciscan. The death of his father prompted him to reconsider his faith, and he returned to his own country. He made his peace with Archbishop Laud (1573-1645) and was accepted into the Church of England. It is believed that after the fall of Laud (who was beheaded for his support of King Charles I) he again forsook his country and went back to the Catholic Faith.

Guppy coat of arms
"Strength enduring"

GUPPY - This distinguished Old English surname Guppy means "of Gopheye," and indicates someone who hails from the town of Gopheye in Dorsetshire. It is a habitational name from a place in Wootton Fitzpaine, Dorset, "Gupehegh" in Middle English. This is named with the Old English personal name Guppa (a short form of Guðbeorht (battle bright) + (ge)hæg (enclosure). According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, the translation is "Guppa's leah", or more pragmatically the farm of a person called Guppa, a short form of Gubbeort, which may have been Gilbert.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Guppy, Goobie, Gophy, Gophie, Guppey, Gooby, Goby, Gobey, Guby, Gube (and many more). The tropical fish denoted by "Guppy" was named in the 19th century in honor of R.J.L. Guppy, a clergyman in Trinidad who first presented specimens to the British Museum.

First found recorded in Dorsetshire, where the family was anciently seated as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. However, many Saxon surnames survived and the family name guppy was first referenced as early as 1253, and later in the year 1327 when Nicholas Gopheye held estates in Somerset (whence they had moved from Dorsetshire).

William Guppy of Chardstock, Devonshire (born about 1475), from whom it is claimed most name holders descend today, was a well known rebel. He was heavily fined and lucky to get away so lightly for his (alleged) part in the revolt of Perkin Warbeck in 1497. This was one of the many unsuccessful attempts made by the defeated House of York at the end of the War of the Roses to try to find a figurehead to put up against King Henry VII (1485-1510). Perkin Warbeck pretended to be one of the alleged murdered 'Princes in the Tower' (Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York), and "returned from the dead" in an attempt to knock Henry VII off the throne. When Henry VII reached Taunton on 4 October 1497 and accepted the surrender of the rebel forces, William Guppy was fined forty shillings for his alleged part in this quashed rebellion, Warbeck was not so fortunate and was later hanged in 1499.

Howe coat of arms
"Howsoever it shall
have pleased God"

HOWE - The name Howe is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived near a hill, steep ridge of land or a man-made mound or barrow. The surname howe is usually derived from the Old English word "hoh", which means "heel" or projecting ridge of land. However, it is also sometimes derived from the Old Norse word "haugr", which means "mound" or "hill". Furthermore, the name howe may be derived from residence in one of a variety of similarly named places: Hoe is in Norfolk; Hoo is in Kent; places called Hooe are in Devon and Sussex; Hose is in Leicestershire; places named Heugh are in Durham and Northumberland; and settlements called Hough are found in both Cheshire and Derby. In some cases the surname may derive from the French personal name Hue, introduced to the British Isles by the Norman French after the Conquest of England in 1066.

The Irish family name Howe is classified as being of personal name origin. According to scholars the "oldest and most pervasive type of surname is that derived from a given name." With regard to the family name Howe, this name is an occasional synonym of the Irish family names Hoey and Hough. Hoey is an anglicized form of the Gaelic surname O hEochaidh, an important sept in early times whose chiefs were Kings of Ulster. Hough is an anglicized form of the Gaelic surname O hEachach, a sept that originated in Co. Limerick. Most Irish families named Howe are however of English extraction.

The variations of the name Howe include: How, Howe, Hoe, Hoo, the rare diminutives Howan, Howen and Howin, the patronymics Howes, Howson, Howison, and others.

The surname is 12th century, making it one of the earliest on record. Other examples of recordings from surviving rolls and charters include Marjorie de Howes in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1167 for Leicestershire, and Robert atte Hou in the Place Names of Yorkshire in 1333. Amongst the early church recordings are Helen Howe who married William Powncett at St. Leonard Eastcheap, in the city of London on January 16th 1550, whilst on December 1st 1771 Mary Howen, a widow, married William Smith a widower, in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of William de Ho. This was dated 1121 in the Danel Law Feudal Documents, for the county of Essex, during the reign of King Stephen of England (1100-1135).

In "The Universal historical dictionary: Volume 2" By George Crabb, 1833, Howe {Her.) the name of a family distinguished in History, of which mention is made as early as the reign of Henry VII. Sir John Howe, son of sir George Howe, knight, above-mentioned, was created a baronet in 1660. Sir Scrope Howe, the fifth baronet, was advanced to the peerage of Ireland in 1701, by the title of baron Clenawley, and viscount Howe; and Richard, the fourth viscount, was raised to the English peerage by the title of viscount Howe, of Langar, co. Nottingham, and in 1788 was elevated to an earldom by the title of earl Howe, and also to the title of baron Howe, of Langar. The earldom became extinct at his death, and the viscounty at the death of his brother in 1817, but the barony devolved on his daughter lady Charlotte Sophia, who was married, first to Penn Asheton Curzon, and afterwards to sir Jonathan-Wathen-Waller, bart. and succeeded to the title as baroness Howe, of Langar. The arms, &c. of this family are as follow: Arms. On a fess between three wolves' heads couped sable. Supporters, Two Cornish choughs proper, beaked and legged gules.

Bradley coat of arms
"vigilant and bold"

BRADLEY - The ancestry of the name Bradley dates from an early medieval Anglo-Scottish surname and the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived in Lincolnshire, where they held estates in the village and parish of Bradley, and from which they derived their family name. It is also an English habitational name from any of the many places throughout England named Bradley, from Old English "brad" (broad) + "leah" (woodland clearing), or a "broad clearing suitable for agriculture". In Scotland it is a habitational name from Braidlie in Roxburghshire.

Variations of spelling include: Bradly, Bradley, Braudly, Broadley, Bruidley, Braidley, Breadley, Bradlie, Bradeley, Bradleigh, Pradley, and Radley.

Derived from the pre 7th century English word "brad-leah", a large number of the English places are recorded in the famous Domesday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086. Given a little French twist the spellings shown are Bradelei, Bradelea, and Bradelie, and from these it is easy to see how many of the later variant surname forms developed.

Early interesting examples of the surname recording include John de Bradely of Berwick, who rendered homage to the republican government of Scotland in 1296, noted also on 25th of June 1291 in the 'Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, 1272-1307 Vol II', edited by Joseph Bain (1884), "for attesting homages and fealty to the King as overlord". Scotland had been left without an heir. As no one in the kingdom could be considered entirely impartial, King Edward I (AKA Longshanks 1239-1307) of England was invited to assist in the selection of a new king of Scotland. The main contenders for the Scottish Crown were John Balliol and Robert Bruce. Edward held court at Norham from May 1291, finally delivering his decision in November 1292: John Balliol was to be the next king of Scotland. It is Edward I and thus John Balliol that John de Bradeley was paying homage to as King of Scotland.

Also notable was James Bradley (1693-1762), the astronomer royal, whose family originate from Bradley Castle, near Wolsingham, in County Durham. He explained the aberration of light as the astronomical phenomenon which produces an apparent motion of celestial objects about their real locations. It was discovered in 1725 and explained as the finite speed of light and the motion of Earth in its orbit around the Sun.

Amongst the many recordings of the name in the church registers of the city of London is that of the marriage of John Bradley and Annis Whitby at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 9th 1564, whilst James Braidley, originally christened as James Bradley in 1805, was a christening witness at St Pancras Old Church, on September 21st 1838. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bradelai. This was dated 1170, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189).

Greenland coat of arms
"Protect with honour"

GREENLAND - An old English topographic name for someone who lived near a patch of land left open as communal pasturage, from Middle English grene (green) + land (land). It is thought also to be a translated form of German "Grönland", a topographic name with the same meaning as before, from Low German grön (green) + land (land). It may also be of English locational origin from places called "Greenland" in Yorkshire, Cornwall and two places in Scotland, in Shetland and near Castletown.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Greenland, Greenlan, Grenland, Greinland and others. First found in Sussex where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. But Saxon surnames survived and the family name was first referenced in the year 1400 when John Greenland held estates in that county.

Early English records refer to an Edward Grenlande, 1273 of Yorkshire, and one William Greneland also of Yorkshire, both listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and one Simon Grenlande was documented in Lancashire in the year 1400.

On Tuesday July 20th 1596 at Canterbury, Kent, Delivery of the gaol at Canterbury Castle, before William Crowmer, Edward Boys, John Boys, Peter Manhood, Mathew Hadd, esquires, and others, justices of the peace. William Greneland (otherwise Greneleas) of St. Paul's Canterbury, labourer, guilty of theft, to be branded on the left hand.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Austen Grenlande, who married Lucy Freeman in Ashford, Kent, dated May 11th 1601 during the reign of the last Tudor, Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and later Annes Greeneland married Lawrence Hickes, which was dated November 15th 1605 at St. Margaret, Lothbury, London, during the reign of King James I of England and VI of Scotland (1603-1625). In Somerset registers we find one Richard Greenland, born 1635 at Elm, Somerset, England.

The surname itself first appears in the London Church Registers in the early 17th Century. One Thomas Greenland married Margery Turvett at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London on June 16th 1609, while one Dorythie Greenland married John Troughton at St. James, Clerkenwell, London on August 2nd 1612. Anne Greenland was christened at St. Margarets, Westminster London in October 1615. One John Grienland was preacher of the Gospel at Anworth, Scotland in 1720.

Butcher coat of arms
"Be steady"

BUTCHER - This name first reached England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an occupational name for a person who worked as a butcher or slaughterer. The name is derived from the Old English root "boucher," or the old French root "bouc" (male goat) + "h-ier" (slaughterer of). Another possible derivation suggests that the name was given to families who dwelt in the French area of Boursieres. The two names have become confused over time, and the derivation of individual cases is subsequently extremely difficult to determine.

Surame variations include: Butcher, Butchere, Butchers, Boucher, Bucher, Buchere, Boutcher, Boucker, Bowker (and many more).

First found in Salop, Shropshire, where they held a family seat after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Anciently the family held lands in Burgundy, France, to which they gave the name Boursieres.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailwardus le Bochere which was dated 1184, found in the Pipe Rolls of London, during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189).

Some early English examples of the name are Richard le Bucher (1240, Feet of Fines of Essex), William Bochier (1327, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex), Alan le Boucher, (1327, of Sussex), Thomas le Bouker (1332, Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire), and one William Bourchier of Somerset was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377).

One Richard Butcher (1583-1665) was town clerk of Stanford (1646) and the name is recorded in Barbados on the Baptismal Register of December 1678 in St. Michael's parish, with the baptism of Richard, the infant son of John and Mary Butchep.

The earliest reference to the modern spelling I have is Jonathan Butcher and Mary Ellen Dosset, who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1794.

Kelly coat of arms
"God is a strong
tower to me"

KELLY - The Irish name kelly has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. The original Gaelic form of the name kelly is O'Ceallaigh or Mac Ceallaigh. These names denote descendants of Ceallach, the Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of". This personal name may be derived from the word "ceallach," which means "strife" or "contention". It is likely an Irish anglicised form of Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh (descendant of Ceallach), an ancient Irish personal name, originally a byname meaning "bright-headed", later understood as "frequenting churches" (Irish ceall). There are several early Irish saints who bore this name. Kelly is now the most common of all Irish family names in Ireland.

Within the archives recorded, many different spelling variations of the surname kelly were found. These included Kelly, Kellie, O'Kelly, O'Killia and others. One reason for the many varations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions.

First found in southwest Ireland, south of Dublin where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Kelly surname is conjecturally descended from King Colla da Crioch, who rose around 330 A.D. In the beginning of the 4th century, three warlike princes, called the Three Collas, sons of Eochy Doimhlein, son of Cairbre Lifeachar, legendary High King of Ireland, of the race of Eremon, made a conquest of a great part of Ulster, which they wrested from the old possessors, princes of the race of Ir, called the Clanna Rory, or Rudericians. The names of the three chiefs were Colla Uais, or Colla the noble, Colla Meann, or Colla the famous, and Colla da Crioch, or Colla of the two territories. Colla Uais became monarch of Ireland 327, and died in 332. The territory conquered by the three Collas comprised the present counties of Louth, Monaghan, and Armagh. Colla da Crioch appears in the Milesian genealogies as the 91st in his line and died in 357 AD. Of course, going this far back leads us into folklore, legend and myth, so we cannot be sure that Colla da Crioch was the early ancestor of the Irish Kelly line, but it's an interesting story to research!

The main (O')Kelly clan belonged to Ui Maine (mid Galway and South Roscommon), and the reigning chieftain, O'Ceallaigh (circa 1351), was a renowned patron of the arts. The descendants of the last Ó Cellaigh (O'Kelly) Uí Maine are currently known as the O'Kelly of Gallagh and Tycooly, and are Counts of the Holy Roman Empire. O'Kelly of Gallagh is officially recognised as entitled to be called O'Kelly.

The surname may also be of English locational origin, from a place thus called in Devonshire, recorded as "Kelli" in the 1194 Pipe Rolls of that County, and named with the Welsh and Cornish "celli" or grove. In 1521, the birth of Henry, son of William Kelly and Jane Trecarrell, was recorded in Kelly, Devonshire.

Finally, the name may be of Scottish territorial origin from the lands of Kelly near Arbroath, Angus, named with the Gaelic element "coille", wood or grove. John de Kelly, noted in "Scottish Acts of Parliament" was abbot of Arbroath in 1373.

The first recorded spelling of the modern family name is shown to be that of Warin de Kelly, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Richard I (AKA Lionheart, 1189-1199).

Another alternative origin from: "An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import (1857)" says it may also be Gaelic or Welsh: Kelly; A grove, generally of hazel. A Kill or Cille, in the Gaelic and Celtic, denoting a church...

An extract from LisaMarie Wheeler, who writes quite eloquently on the subject of Surnames:

Originally, people had no use for surnames. They lived in communities that were small enough that it was unlikely people would have the same given name. Also, people rarely traveled great distances so it was unlikely they would meet anyone sharing the same name. As communities grew and people started traveling more there became a need to differentiate between people sharing the same given name. This caused surnames to come into existence.

The earliest surnames were not inherited as they are today. They simply described the person who bore the name. The most common early naming system of this sort is called patronymics (patro=father, nymics=naming). This system of surnames uses the name of a person’s father as that person’s surname. So, if a village had two people named Thomas in it, then one Thomas might be Thomas son of Robert and the other Thomas might be Thomas son of John.

Surnames were originally given to a single person. These surnames would change from generation to generation, making it difficult to keep track of family relationship. As time moved on people stopped changing surnames from generation to generation. The first people to do this were often the nobility and royalty of an area. These permanent surnames seem to appear first after the first crusades. They started in France at about 1000 and spread with the Norman Invasion to England and Scotland. Most British surnames appear to have become fixed or permanent between 1250 and 1450. Places with strong ties to England developed a system of fixed surnames faster then others.

Please be aware that there is no such thing as a family coat of arms or crest, or arms for a particular surname. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Arms are granted, with a few exceptions, only to individuals and their heirs in the direct male line. Not everyone with the surname listed here is entitled to use the arms.

The list above simply records that there are some people with these surnames who were granted arms, but the vast majority of people of the name will not be entitled to them. In my genealogical researches I have not attempted to prove any link to my ancestors with any of the above arms or crests, so they are really only here for interest and a bit of fun, and although the name origins are correct as far as I can tell, they should be taken as a mixture of fact, conjecture and folk-lore taken from several sources.

The College of Arms has a nice explanation of this:
...[ "Armorial bearings are hereditary. They can be borne and used by all the descendants in the legitimate male line of the person to whom they were originally granted or confirmed. To establish a right to arms by inheritance it is necessary to prove a descent from an ancestor who is already recorded as entitled to arms in the registers of the College of Arms. The first step in establishing whether there might be a possibility of having a right to arms by descent is to approach the officer in waiting at the College of Arms with what details one has of one's paternal ancestry. He will then be able to advise on the cost of having a search made in the official records for coats of arms recorded for families of one's name. The search may show that no family of the name has possessed arms or that one or more have done so. If the latter, and no known ancestor of the enquirer has been found on official record, the next stage will be genealogical research in records outside the College. This would be undertaken to extend the enquirer's pedigree to see if a connection with an armigerous family could be found." ]...

...[ "Heralds have been genealogists since the fifteenth century. The hereditary nature of arms encouraged them to develop scientific genealogical methods at an early date. Sir William Dugdale (d. 1686), Garter King of Arms, was one of the greatest pioneers of modern genealogical research in England. Officers of arms conduct genealogical research, primarily within the British Isles, into families of all social strata. Sometimes the purpose of the research is to see if a right to arms by descent can be established, but more often the inspiration behind the commission is simple genealogical curiosity and the client is not hoping or expecting to find armigerous ancestors. The heralds have the advantage over other genealogists not only of access to the unique records and collections of the College of Arms, accrued over five centuries, but also of being part of a continuing tradition of expertise and technique." ]...

All the information here should only be used as a guideline and must not be relied on as primary evidence.

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