Show ContentsHighley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Highley is derived from the place name Highly, originally Huggalea or Hugelei in Old English. It is located in Shropshire, and was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086 as held by Ralph de Mortimer.

Early Origins of the Highley family

The surname Highley was first found in Shropshire at Highley, today a large village and civil parish on the west bank of the River Severn. The village dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was first listed as Hughlei [1] and literally meant "woodland clearing of a man called Hugga," from the Old English personal name + "leah." [2] As far as the surname, the first record of the name was found in 1246 where it was listed simply as "Huggele." [3]

Early History of the Highley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Highley research. Another 26 words (2 lines of text) covering the years 1327, 1377, 1573 and 1581 are included under the topic Early Highley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Highley Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Highley include Highley, Highley, Higford, Hiley, Heighly, Hyley and others.

Early Notables of the Highley family (pre 1700)

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

United States Highley migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled 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 ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Highley or a variant listed above:

Highley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anthony Highley, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1737 [4]
Highley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Harry Highley, who was naturalized in Colorado in 1882
  • John Highley, who was naturalized in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in 1889

New Zealand Highley 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:

Highley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J. Highley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Excelsior" in 1870 [5]
  • Ann J. Highley, aged 43, a housemaid, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Inverness" in 1875
  • George H. Highley, aged 16, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Inverness" in 1875

Contemporary Notables of the name Highley (post 1700) +

  • Nancy P. Highley, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1924 (alternate), 1928 (alternate), 1932, 1936, 1944 (alternate) [6]
  • L. E. Highley (1876-1935), American Republican politician, Member of South Dakota State Senate 42nd District, 1909-10, 1929-32 [6]
  • George C. Highley, American Democratic Party politician, Presidential Elector for California, 1940 [6]
  • A. Bowdle Highley, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Maryland, 1940 (alternate), 1956 [6]
  • Frank Highley, English Senior Partner in the law firm Cohen Highley LLP
  • Christopher Highley, published historical author
  • Timothy L Highley Jr., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computer Science at La Salle University

The Highley 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: Dieu et mon Droit
Motto Translation: God and my Right.

  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. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. 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)
  5. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 4th November 2011). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 20) . Retrieved from on Facebook