Cilay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The name Cilay was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Cilay family lived in Devon. Ancient records reveal the name Cilay is derived from the Old English word saelig, meaning one who is happy and blessed.
Early Origins of the Cilay family
The surname Cilay was first found in Devon where they were granted lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were Lords of the manor of Rackenford, and were conjecturally descended from Jocelyn who held the lands at the time of the taking of the Domesday Book in 1086 A.D. from Baldwin, the Sheriff. The family may have originated in Cornwall as in "John Silly, gentleman of St. Wenn, altered his name from Ceely to Silly."  No dates were given with the previous quote. However, we did find another note about the family in the parish of Helland, Cornwall. "Another barton called Kernick, which was for some time the residence of a family called Silly, became the property of Sir John Morshead." 
One of the earliest records of the name was Henry de Sully (or Soilli) (died 1195), was a medieval monk, prior of Bermondsey Abbey in 1186, Bishop of Worcester (1193-1195) and Abbot of Glastonbury.
William, Count of Sully, also known as William the Simple (c. 1085-c. 1150) was Count of Blois and Count of Chartres from 1102 to 1107, and jure uxoris Count of Sully. William was the eldest son of Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and Adela of Normandy, daughter of William the Conqueror. In 1104, William married Agnes of Sully, the heiress to the lordship of Sully-sur-Loire. Together they had six children including Henry de Sully (died 1189), the medieval Abbot of Fécamp and Bishop-designate of Salisbury and Archbishop-elect of York in 1140.
Over in France, Maurice de Sully (died 1196) was Bishop of Paris from 1160 until his death. He is best known for overseeing the building of Notre Dame Catherdaral.
Early History of the Cilay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cilay research. Another 67 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1361, 1283, 1388, 1680, 1729 and 1718 are included under the topic Early Cilay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Cilay Spelling Variations
Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Silley, Silly, Cele, Sully, Silliman and others.
Early Notables of the Cilay family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Sully (born c.1283-c.1388), of Ruxford and Iddesleigh in Devonshire, an English knight. The family were traditional lords of the manor of Iddesleigh in Devonshire. He was noted for giving evidence in Scrope v Grosvenor, one of the earliest heraldic law cases brought in England. At the time, it is claimed that his age was 105. Henry...
Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cilay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Cilay family
Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Cilay or a variant listed above: Edward Silley settled in Virginia in 1635; Sarah Silley settled in Maryland in 1737; Hugh and John Silly settled in Barbados in 1660; Thomas Silly landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1877.
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print