Holley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Holley emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Flemish surnames of this type frequently are prefixed by de la or de le, which mean of the or from the. The Holley family originally lived near a prominent group of holly shrubs. The surname Holley is derived from the Old English words holi, holie, and holin, which in turn come from the Old English words holegn and holen, which mean holly. The surname Holley belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

Early Origins of the Holley family

The surname Holley was first found in Norfolk where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Early History of the Holley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Holley research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1602, 1686 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Holley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Holley Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Holly, Holley, Hollie and others.

Early Notables of the Holley family (pre 1700)

Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Holley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Holley Ranking

In the United States, the name Holley is the 1,030th most popular surname with an estimated 29,844 people with that name. [1]

Ireland Migration of the Holley family to Ireland

Some of the Holley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 79 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Holley migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Holley were found:

Holley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Elizabeth Holley, who settled in Boston in 1635
  • Samuel Holley, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636 [2]
  • Lionel Holley, who settled in Virginia in 1642
  • Lyonell Holley, who arrived in Virginia in 1642 [2]
  • John Holley, who landed in Virginia in 1656 [2]
Holley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Sampson Holley, (b. 1870), aged 22, Cornish miner from Callington, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 6th April 1892 en route to New York, USA [3]
Holley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Charles Holley, aged 32, who landed in America from England, in 1902
  • Benjamin Holley, aged 32, who landed in America from Isle of Jersey, England, in 1909
  • Charles Holley, aged 49, who immigrated to the United States, in 1914
  • Edgar J. Holley, aged 6, who immigrated to the United States from England, in 1916
  • Bradley Holley, aged 35, who immigrated to the United States, in 1918
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Holley migration to Australia +

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

Holley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Holley, (b. 1814), aged 28, English grinder who was convicted in Pontefract, Yorkshire, England for 7 years for theft, transported aboard the "Earl Grey" on 4th October 1842, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Holley (post 1700) +

  • Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holley (1936-1959), American singer, songwriter; considered one of the most influential founding fathers of Rock 'n Roll, killed in a plane crash with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Vallens, famously referred to as "The Day the Music Died" in Don McLean's 1971 song "American Pie"
  • Lonnie Bradley Holley (b. 1950), American artist and art educator, known as The Sand Man
  • Claire Chamblin Holley, American folk singer-songwriter from Mississippi who has released eight albums and written for TV, Hollywood musicals and museums
  • Charles M. Holley Jr. (b. 1957), American businessman, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President of Wal-Mart
  • Samuel J. Holley (b. 1844), American professional baseball umpire in the late 1800s
  • Robert William Holley (1922-1993), American biochemist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for describing the structure of alanine transfer RNA
  • Orville Luther Holley (1791-1861), American writer, historian and politician, New York State Surveyor General (1838 to 1842)
  • Myron Holley (1779-1841), American politician who was a driving force in the construction of the Erie Canal, eponym of Holley, New York
  • Michael Holley, American Pulitzer Prize winning television and radio sports commentator, sports reporter and author
  • James W. Holley III (1926-2012), American politician and dental surgeon, two term Mayor of Portsmouth, Virginia
  • ... (Another 28 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-gray


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