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

Where did the Irish Reilly family come from? What is the Irish Reilly family crest and coat of arms? When did the Reilly family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Reilly family history?

The Reilly surname originally appeared in Gaelic as O Raghailligh, which means descendant of Raghallach.


The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Reilly revealed spelling variations, including O'Reilly, O'Reilley, O'Reily, O'Rielly, O'Riely, O'Riley, O'Rilley, Reel and many more.

First found in County Cavan, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Reilly research. Another 233 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1598, 1669, 1630, 1695, 1689, 1640, 1703, 1689, 1646 and 1691 are included under the topic Early Reilly History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 123 words(9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Reilly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Reilly family came to North America quite early:

Reilly Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Christopher Reilly, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773

Reilly Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Richard Reilly, who landed in New York in 1801
  • Francis Reilly, aged 35, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1805
  • Catherine Reilly, aged 8, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1805
  • Brien Reilly, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Hugh Reilly, aged 19, arrived in New York in 1812


  • Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007), American two-time Emmy-nominated actor, comedian, director and drama teacher
  • James Francis Reilly II (b. 1954), American geologist and former NASA astronaut with over 853 hours in space
  • John Christopher Reilly (b. 1965), American film and theatre actor, nominee of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
  • Kevin P. Reilly (b. 1949), American academic, 6th President of the University of Wisconsin System
  • John Good "Long John" Reilly (1858-1937), American Major League Baseball first baseman
  • Michael Eugene Reilly (b. 1949), American Major League Baseball umpire
  • Thomas F. Reilly (b. 1942), American attorney and politician, 45th Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Patrick "Paddy" Reilly (b. 1939), Irish folk singer and guitarist and one of Ireland's most famous balladeers
  • Pauline Neura Reilly OAM (b. 1918), Australian author and ornithologist
  • Dianne Ann Reilly (b. 1969), Australian politician



  • Reilly of Ballintlea by Joseph F. Reilly.

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  1. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  4. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  7. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  8. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. 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. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  11. ...

The Reilly Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Reilly Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 17 June 2014 at 09:43.

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