Harley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Harley date back to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from their residence in Harley, a place-name found in Shropshire and in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The place-name is derived from the Old English words hare, which meant hare or rabbit, and leah, which meant forest clearing. The name as a whole meant "clearing with lots of rabbits." The original bearers of the name lived near or in such a clearing.

Early Origins of the Harley family

The surname Harley was first found in Shropshire where "it appears that Edward and Hernulf, living in the first half of the twelfth century, were lords of Harley, and the ancestors of the race who were afterwards denominated therefrom. Sixth in descent from William de Harley living in 1231 was Sir Robert de Harley." [1]

"In an ancient leiger book of the abbey of Pershore, in Worcestershire is a commemoration of a noble warrior of this name, who commanding an army under Ethelred, king of England, in his wars against Sweyn, king of Denmark, gave the Danes a great defeat near that town, about the year 1013." [2]

" Before the Conquest, Sir John de Harley was possessed of Harley Castle and lordship." The same, or another, Sir John de Harley accompanied the expedition to the Holy Land in 1098." [2]

By the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, the name was scattered throughout Britain: Henry de Herley in Berkshire; and Clemens de Herleghe in Somerset. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists Matilda Herlay and Willelmus Herlay. [3]

Further north in Scotland, listings of the family were found in Fife and Clackmannanshire. [4]

Early History of the Harley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harley research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1098, 1782, 1319, 1354, 1558, 1549, 1579, 1656, 1624, 1700, 1664, 1735, 1703, 1735, 1695, 1698, 1661, 1724, 1600, 1643, 1600, 1623, 1579 and 1656 are included under the topic Early Harley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harley Spelling Variations

Harley has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Many variations of the name Harley have been found, including Harley, Hurley, Harrily and others.

Early Notables of the Harley family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include William Hurley (known works 1319-1354), King's Master Carpenter for King Edward III; John Harley (died 1558), an English Bishop of Hereford; John Harley, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1549; Sir Robert Harley (1579-1656), an English statesman who served as Master of the Mint for Charles I; Sir Edward Harley KB (1624-1700), an English Parliamentarian, Governor of Dunkirk, born at Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire; and his son, Edward Harley (1664-1735), of Eywood, Titley, Herefordshire, Auditor of the Imprests (1703-1735)...
Another 83 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Harley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Harley family to Ireland

Some of the Harley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Harley migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Harleys to arrive on North American shores:

Harley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Susana Harley, who arrived in Maryland in 1673 [5]
  • Mary Harley, who landed in Maryland in 1679 [5]
Harley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Daniell Harley, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [5]
  • Edmund Harley, who settled in Maryland in 1725
  • Johannes Harley, aged 25, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1738 [5]
Harley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Harley, aged 26, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Thomas Harley, who arrived in New York in 1824 [5]
  • Elizabeth Harley, who landed in New York in 1840 [5]
  • Catharine Harley, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Cath Harley, aged 11, who landed in New York in 1854 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Harley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Harley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Richard Harley, aged 22, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Charity" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Daniel Harley, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Charity" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Thomas Harley, aged 32, a weaver, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Providence" from Cork, Ireland
  • Mr. Patrick Harley, aged 21 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Greenock" departing 19th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 29th July 1847 but he died on board [6]

Australia Harley migration to Australia +

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

Harley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. David Harley, (b. 1809), aged 18, British convict who was convicted in Aberdeen, Scotland for 14 years for breaking and entering, transported aboard the "Asia IV" on 25th July 1827, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Mr. Michael Harley who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 24th March 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Robert Harley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838 [9]
  • James Harley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Emily" in 1849 [10]
  • Michael Harley, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Agincourt"

New Zealand Harley 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:

Harley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Charles Harley, who landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Ld Auckland
  • Elizabeth Harley, aged 24, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • W. D. Harley, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857
  • Thomas Harley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1859
  • Mr. Thomas Harley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "William Watson" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th February 1859 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Harley (post 1700) +

  • William S. Harley (1880-1943), American co-founder of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company
  • Rufus Harley (1936-2006), American jazz musician
  • Russell Aubrey Harley, American politician, Member of South Carolina State Senate from Newberry County, 1957-60 [12]
  • Robert Bruce Harley, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Pernambuco, 1943 [12]
  • Joseph Emile Harley (1880-1942), American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from South Carolina, 1928; Governor of South Carolina, 1941-42 [12]
  • Jonas S. Harley, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1904 [12]
  • John T. Harley, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, 1921 [12]
  • James E. Harley, American politician, Mayor of Aurora, Illinois, 1919 [12]
  • Harry K. Harley, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964 [12]
  • Clinton S. Harley (b. 1878), American Republican politician, Cemetery operator; Member of Washington State House of Representatives, 1943-45; Member of Washington State Senate 43rd District, 1947 [12]
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • John Alexander Haldane Harley (d. 1939), British Leading Signalman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [13]


The Harley Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtute et fide
Motto Translation: By valour and faith.


  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  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. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  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. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 79)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 27th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia-1v
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAJASTHAN 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Rajasthan.htm
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The EMILY 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Emily.htm
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 8) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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