Show ContentsHillery History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Hillery family first reached the shores of England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Their name is derived 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 Hillery family

The surname Hillery 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 Hillery family

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

Hillery Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Hillary, Hillery and others.

Early Notables of the Hillery 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 M.D. in 1722, writing a dissertation on...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Hillery Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Hillery Ranking

In the United States, the name Hillery is the 13,497th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

United States Hillery migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Hillery or a variant listed above:

Hillery Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Susan Hillery, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [4]

Canada Hillery migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Hillery Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Hillery, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Australia Hillery migration to Australia +

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

Hillery Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Ann Hillery, (b. 1809), aged 22, English servant who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 31st December 1831, arriving in New South Wales, she died in 1908 [5]

New Zealand Hillery 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:

Hillery Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Fanny Hillery, (b. 1852), aged 23, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Helen Denny" arriving in Hawkes Bay, Napier, North Island, New Zealand on 20th September 1875 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Hillery (post 1700) +

  • Frederick Alverdo Hillery (1854-1937), American early leader in the American Holiness Movement
  • Thomas J. Hillery, American Republican politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Morris County; Elected 1946, 1947, 1949; Member of New Jersey State Senate from Morris County, 1954-68 [7]
  • Thomas J. Hillery, American politician, Member of New Jersey State Senate from Morris County, 1905-09 [7]
  • Philip Hillery, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Texas 12th District, 2002 [7]
  • Mary Jane Hillery, American Republican politician, Candidate for Massachusetts State Senate Middlesex & Worcester District, 2002 [7]
  • Jules W. Hillery, American politician, Representative from Louisiana 1st District, 1992 [7]
  • John D. Hillery, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Mayor of Buffalo, New York, 1947; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1952 [7]
  • Mary Beatrice "Maeve" Hillery (b. 1924), née Finnegan, an Irish anaesthetist and wife of Patrick Hillery, former President of Ireland
  • Brian Hillery (1937-2021), Irish businessman and former Fianna Fáil politician, former Chairman of Independent News & Media
  • Patrick John Hillery (1923-2008), Irish politician, the 6th President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990

  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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from
  6. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook