Show ContentsHillary History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Hillary was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. It comes from the medieval given name Hillary, which was originally derived from the Latin personal name Hilarius, which means cheerful glad, happy and joyful.

"Fr Hilaire, Hilari, Lat hilaris ‘cheerful’, the name of several saints, in particular St Hilarius of Poitiers (d. 368). The name was popular in France and not uncommon in England." 1

Early Origins of the Hillary family

The surname Hillary was first found in Worcester where the first record of the name was in Latin and as a forename: Hilarius Brunus who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1177. Following this, we found Richard Ilarie in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1227 and later, Willelmus Hillar (Ylarius) in the Pipe Rolls for Worcester in 1230. Rober and William Hillari were listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1275 in Lincolnshire and the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1283. 1

Hilary (fl. 1125), was a medieval Latin poet, who "is supposed to have been a native of England from the fact that one of his poems narrates the life of Eva, an English recluse, who died in Anjou, as well as from various allusions in other of his poems, some of which are addressed to English friends." 2

Hilary (d. 1169) was Bishop of Chichester, nominated to the bishopric in 1146, and consecrated by Archbishop Theobald at Canterbury 3 August 1147. "On the deposition of William, Archbishop of York, in the same year, the majority of the chapter chose Hilary, but Pope Eugenius III preferred Henry Murdac, the candidate of the minority. Hilary seems to have gone to France at this time, and to have endeavoured to defend King Stephen before the pope." 2

Early History of the Hillary family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Hillary research. Another 85 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1206, 1722, 1734, 1752, 1758 and 1763 are included under the topic Early Hillary History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Hillary Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Hillary, Hillery and others.

Early Notables of the Hillary family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • William Hillary (d. 1763), an English physician, "was a pupil of Boerhaave at Leyden, where he graduated...

United States Hillary migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Hillary or a variant listed above were:

Hillary Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Susan Hillary, who landed in Virginia in 1652 3
  • Nicholas Hillary, who settled in Nevis in 1654
  • William Hillary, who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Susanna Hillary, who arrived in Virginia in 1655 3
  • Thomas Hillary, who landed in Maryland in 1661 3
Hillary Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Samuel Hillary, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1711 3
  • John Hillary, who settled in Charles Town in 1767
  • George Hillary, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1793 3

Australia Hillary migration to Australia +

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

Hillary Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Bridget Hillary, aged 19, a housemaid, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Nugget" 4
  • Thomas Hillary, aged 25, a labourr, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Constantine"
  • Bridget Hillary, aged 17, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Constantine"
  • Anthony Hillary, aged 27, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Bee"

New Zealand Hillary 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:

Hillary Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Edward Hillary, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British Queen" in 1883 5

Contemporary Notables of the name Hillary (post 1700) +

  • Barbara Hillary (1931-2019), the first known African-American woman to reach the North Pole a the age of 75, she later reached the South Pole in January 2011 at the age of 79
  • Sir William Hillary (1771-1847), 1st Baronet, an English soldier, author and philanthropist, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in 1824
  • Flight Lieutenant Richard Hope Hillary (1919-1943), Australian Battle of Britain pilot who died during World War II, best known for his book The Last Enemy
  • Peter Hillary (b. 1954), New Zealand son of Sir Edmund Hillary, he has climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents
  • Sir Edmund Percival Hillary KG, ONZ, KBE (1919-2008), New Zealand Mountain Climber, among the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest (29 May 1953)
  • Richard Hope Hillary, Australian fighter pilot and flying ace in the Royal Air Force, during World War II, credited with 5 aerial victories
  • William Hillary Smallwood, American Republican politician, Secretary of State of Kansas, 1871-75 6
  • Mrs. Hillary Pauline Evans B.E.M., British recipient of the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to the community in Burnham, Buckinghamshire 7
  • Hillary Dawn Scott -Tyrrell (b. 1986), known professionally as Hillary Scott, an American two-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee
  • Hillary Garrison Waldrep, American sniper who was the purported assassin of William Haines Lytle, American brigadier general in 1863

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. 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)
  4. South Australian Register Tuesday 4th July 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Nugget 1854. Retrieved
  5. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 12th November 2011). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 20) . Retrieved from
  7. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, on Facebook