Coley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Coley originated with the Anglo-Saxon tribes that once ruled Britain. It is derived from the common diminutive of the popular name Nicholas. Col was a common diminutive of the popular name Nicholas. The form Coley was particularly popular in Yorkshire. Nicholas was the name of a popular saint from the fourth century, and was given to many children in England in the Middle Ages.

Early Origins of the Coley family

The surname Coley was first found in Gloucestershire at Coaley, a village in the union of Dursley, Upper division of the hundred of Berkeley which dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was listed as Couelege and was held by King William. [1] The place name literally means "clearing with a hut or shelter," from the Old English "cofa" + "leah." [2]

Alternatively, the name could have originated in Yorkshire as by the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, the following were listed: Adam Coly; Agnes Coly; Rogeris Coly; and Willelmus Coiley as all holding lands there at that time. [3]

John Colley ( fl. 1440), was an early theological writer, "a member of the Carmelite convent at Doncaster. He is said to have been an elegant Latin writer and an eloquent preacher." [4]

Early History of the Coley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coley research. Another 150 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1513, 1560, 1554, 1633, 1695, 1633, 1585, 1637, 1621, 1674, 1648, 1700, 1698, 1699, 1685, 1723 and 1723 are included under the topic Early Coley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coley Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Coley has appeared include Colly, Colley, Collie, Caullie, Caulley, Caully, Coully, Coulley and many more.

Early Notables of the Coley family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Thomas Colly (c. 1513-1560), of Dover, Kent, an English politician, Member of Parliament for Dover in 1554. Henry Coley (1633-1695?), was a mathematician and...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Coley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Coley family to Ireland

Some of the Coley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 111 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Coley migration to the United States +

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Coley arrived in North America very early:

Coley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Samuel Coley, who landed in Massachusetts in 1631 [5]
Coley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Margaret Coley, who arrived in Virginia in 1713 [5]
  • George Coley, aged 21, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1776 [5]
Coley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Abraham Coley, who landed in Texas in 1850-1906 [5]
  • Annie Coley, aged 23, who landed in America from Liverpool, in 1897
Coley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Catharine Coley, aged 29, who landed in America from Blackpool, in 1903
  • Alice Coley, aged 21, who landed in America from Cradley Heath, England, in 1906
  • Annie Coley, aged 41, who immigrated to the United States from Birmingham, in 1906
  • Bradley L. Coley, who settled in America, in 1909
  • Charlotte Coley, aged 40, who immigrated to the United States from Birmingham, England, in 1920
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Coley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Coley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Peter Coley, aged 47, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "John Banks" [6]
  • Mary Coley, aged 21, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Bucephalus"

New Zealand Coley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Coley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Isaac Coley, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr. Michael Coley, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Bernica" en route to Otago via passenger disembarked at Nelson, South Island, New Zealand in December 1848 [7]
  • Mrs. Sarah Coley, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Bernica" en route to Otago via passenger disembarked at Nelson, South Island, New Zealand in December 1848 [7]
  • Miss Isabella Coley, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Bernica" en route to Otago via passenger disembarked at Nelson, South Island, New Zealand in December 1848 [7]
Coley Settlers in New Zealand in the 20th Century
  • William Coley, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926

Contemporary Notables of the name Coley (post 1700) +

  • Daryl Lynn Coley (1955-2016), American Christian singer
  • Jim Coley (b. 1951), American politician
  • Kevis Coley (b. 1982), American football linebacker
  • James Coley (b. 1973), American college football coach
  • John Ford Coley (b. 1951), born John Edward Colley, American singer, classically trained pianist, guitarist, actor, and author, member of the musical duo England Dan & John Ford Coley [8]
  • Doris Coley (1941-2000), American lead singer of the Shirelles, inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 [9]
  • Dr. William Bradley Coley (1862-1936), American bone surgeon and cancer researcher from Westfield, Connecticut who developed a cancer vaccine which provoked an immune response to bacteria, creator of Coley Fluid, eponym of the William B. Coley Award [10]
  • Byron Coley, American music critic
  • Andy Coley (b. 1978), English rugby league player
  • Andre Coley (b. 1974), Jamaican cricket player [11]
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 30th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) John Banks 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/johnbanks1855.shtml
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ John Coley. (Retrieved 2011, September 9) John Coley. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ford_Coley
  9. ^ Doris Coley. (Retrieved 2011, September 9) Doris Coley. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Coley
  10. ^ William Coley. (Retrieved 2011, September 9) William Coley. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_B._Coley
  11. ^ Andre Coley. (Retrieved 2012, August 10) Andre Coley. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Coley


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