Show ContentsGilley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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 Gilley is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful." [1]

Early Origins of the Gilley family

The surname Gilley was 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. [2]

"Kiely belongs mainly to Cos. Waterford and Limerick." [3]

Early History of the Gilley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilley research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1630, 1645, 1689 and 1863 are included under the topic Early Gilley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilley Spelling Variations

Irish names recorded during the Middle Ages are characterized by many spelling variations. This preponderance of variations for common names can be explained by the fact that the scribes and church officials that kept records during that period individually decided how to capture one's name. These recorders primarily based their decisions on how the name was pronounced or what it meant. Research into the name Gilley revealed many variations, including Keily, Keiley, Keilly, Kiley, Kily, Kiely, Kieley, Keeley, Keely, Queally, Quealy, Quelly, O'Keily, O'Keilly, O'Kiely and many more.

Early Notables of the Gilley family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Gilley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilley Ranking

In the United States, the name Gilley is the 2,839th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [4]

United States Gilley migration to the United States +

Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name Gilley:

Gilley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Phillip Gilley, aged 23, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1806 [5]
  • Robert Gilley, aged 28, who landed in Maine in 1812 [5]
  • W B Gilley, aged 27, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Anne Gilley, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [5]
  • William B Gilley, who arrived in New York in 1822 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Gilley migration to Australia +

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

Gilley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Gilley, (Jolly), (b. 1780), aged 23, British Convict who was convicted in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. James Gilley, (b. 1836), aged 20, Cornish agricultural labourer travelling aboard the ship "Persia" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 22nd June 1856 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilley (post 1700) +

  • James Wade Gilley (b. 1938), American academic, 4th President of University of Tennessee from 1999 to 2001, President of Marshall University from 1991 to 1999
  • Herbert Paul Gilley (1929-1957), American country music lyricist and promoter from Kentucky, after his death due to drowning at the age of 27, he was identified more widely as likely having written the lyrics to a dozen famous songs, including two that were hits for Hank Williams: "Cold, Cold Heart" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
  • Bruce Gilley (b. 1966), American professor of political science at Portland State University
  • Mickey Leroy Gilley (1936-2022), American country music singer and songwriter, known for "Room Full of Roses", "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time"
  • Clarence W. Gilley (b. 1919), American Republican politician, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (1949-1954) [8]
  • Stan Gilley (b. 1982), American professional football player
  • Wendell Gilley, American bird watcher and artist who carved birds in wood on Mount Desert Island, Maine
  • Wayne W. Gilley, American politician, Mayor of Lawton, Oklahoma, 1967 [9]
  • Janice E. Gilley, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Florida, 2004 [9]
  • Clarence William Gilley (b. 1919), American Republican politician, Member of Wisconsin State Assembly from Florence, Forest and Oneida counties, 1949-50 [9]
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Suggested Readings for the name Gilley +

  • Gillis and Other Pioneer Families of Georgia by Marvin B. Gillis.
  • Scots and Their Kin by Clayton G. Metcalf.

  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0)
  4. ^
  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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2013, November 26) . Retrieved from
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook