Colley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the name Colley are with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from the common diminutive of the popular name Nicholas. Col was a common diminutive of the popular name Nicholas. The form Colley 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 Colley family

The surname Colley 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 Colley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Colley 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 Colley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Colley Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Colley has been spelled many different ways, including Colly, Colley, Collie, Caullie, Caulley, Caully, Coully, Coulley and many more.

Early Notables of the Colley 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 Colley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Colley family to Ireland

Some of the Colley 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 Colley migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Colleys to arrive in North America:

Colley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Colley and his family who settled in Barbados in 1680
  • John Colley and his wife Susan moved to Philadelphia in 1683
Colley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Silvanus Colley, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [5]
  • Jonathan Colley, who landed in Virginia in 1702 [5]
  • Michael Colley, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745 [5]
Colley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Colley, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1809 [5]
  • William Colley, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [5]
  • John Colley, who landed in Mississippi in 1842 [5]
  • Dennis Colley, aged 23, who landed in New York in 1854 [5]
  • George Colley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1870 [5]

Australia Colley migration to Australia +

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

Colley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Colley, English convict from Berkshire, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • James Colley, who arrived in Port Misery aboard the ship "Duchess of Northumberland" in 1839 [7]
  • Mr. Anthony Colley, (b. 1810), aged 39, Cornish gardener from St. Germans, Cornwall, Uk travelling aboard the ship "Victoria" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 2nd September 1849 [8]
  • Mrs. Ann Colley, (b. 1813), aged 36, Cornish settler from St. Germans, Cornwall, Uk travelling aboard the ship "Victoria" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 2nd September 1849 [8]
  • Mr. Thomas Chubb Colley, (b. 1835), aged 14, Cornish farm labourer from St. Germans, Cornwall, Uk travelling aboard the ship "Victoria" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 2nd September 1849 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Colley 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:

Colley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Colley, British settler travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Roman Emperor" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 30th March 1863 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Colley (post 1700) +

  • Don Pedro Colley (1938-2017), American actor, perhaps best known for his role as Sheriff Little in the 1980s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Scott Colley (b. 1963), American jazz double bassist and composer
  • Sarah Ophelia Colley (1912-1996), birth name of Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, better known as Minnie Pearl, an American country comedian who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years and on the television show Hee Haw from 1969 to 1991
  • Samuel Gerish Colley (1807-1890), American farmer, sheriff, politician
  • Randy Colley (b. 1950), American retired professional wrestler, known by his ring name Moondog Rex
  • Kevin Colley (b. 1979), retired American NHL ice hockey right winger who played from 1999 to 2006, awarded the Bob Nystrom Award in 2006
  • John Edward Colley (b. 1948), birth name of John Ford Coley, an American singer, pianist, guitarist and actor, member of the duo England Dan & John Ford Coley
  • Russell Colley (1899-1996), American designer of the spacesuits worn by the Mercury astronauts
  • Kenneth Colley (b. 1937), English actor, best known for his role as Admiral Piett in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • William Dixon Colley (1913-2001), Gambian journalist, publisher and editor, co-founder and first Chairman of the Gambia Press Union (GPU)
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Edward Pomeroy Colley (d. 1912), aged 37, Irish First Class passenger from Dublin, Ireland who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [10]


  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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/ann/1809
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND - 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839DuchessOfNorthumberland.htm
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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