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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish Keeley family come from? When did the Keeley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Keeley family history?

There are a multitude of ancient meanings and variations associated with the Irish surnames that are now common throughout the modern world. The original Gaelic form of the name Keeley is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful."

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During the Middle Ages, attempting to record a Gaelic name in English was a daunting task. Most names were spelt by scribes solely based on how it sounded, one's name could have been recorded many different ways during the life of its bearer. Numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Keeley family name.Variations found include Keily, Keiley, Keilly, Kiley, Kily, Kiely, Kieley, Keeley, Keely, Queally, Quealy, Quelly, O'Keily, O'Keilly, O'Kiely and many more.

First found in County Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge), anciently the Deise region, on the South coast of Ireland in the Province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. They are of the ancient kingdom of Ossory (Osraighe), conjecturally descended from the Kings and gentry of Ossory, the progenitor of which was Conla, the second son of Breasal Breac, King of Leinster, and descended to Ceallach who was ancestor of Teige McGillpatrick.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keeley research. Another 469 words(34 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1630, 1645, 1689, and 1863 are included under the topic Early Keeley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Keeley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Irish immigrants began to leave the English-controlled Ireland in sizable numbers during the late 18th century. Many of these Irish immigrated to British North America or the United States in the hopes of gaining their own tract of farmland. This pattern of migration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine caused a great exodus of immigrants to North America. These immigrants differed from their predecessors in that they were desperately fleeing the disease and starvation that plagued their homeland, and many were entirely destitute when they arrived in North America. Although these penniless immigrants were not warmly welcomed when they arrived, they were critical to the rapid development of the United States and what would become known as Canada. Many went to populate the western frontiers and others provided the cheap labor the new manufacturing sector and the building of bridges, roads, railways, and canals required. A thorough examination of immigration and passenger lists has revealed some of the earliest people to arrive in North America with name Keeley or one of its variants:

Keeley Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • William Keeley who landed in America in 1765

Keeley Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • David Keeley, who arrived in America in 1801
  • Owen Keeley, who arrived in New York in 1837
  • Dennis and Ellen Keeley settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1849
  • A Keeley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Michael Keeley settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852


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  • Fred Keeley (b. 1950), American politician
  • Leslie Keeley (1836-1900), American physician
  • Wayne J Keeley (b. 1956), American practicing attorney, author, teacher, producer and director
  • Steven Bo Keeley (b. 1949), American adventurer, naturalist, holistic healer, veterinarian, professional athlete
  • Burton Elwood "Burt" Keeley (1879-1952), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • James Hugh Keeley Jr. (1898-1975), American diplomat
  • Irene Patricia Murphy Keeley (b. 1944), United States jurist
  • Mary Anne Keeley (1805-1899), English actress and actor-manager
  • Robert Keeley (b. 1970), British creator of effects pedals
  • Walter Keeley (1921-1995), English footballer

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  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  3. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  4. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  5. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  8. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  9. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
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This page was last modified on 7 November 2013 at 22:53.

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