Show ContentsKelsey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Kelsey surname lived among the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. The name comes from when they lived in either North Kelsey or South Kelsey in the county of Lincolnshire. Both parishes date back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when they were recorded as Northchelesi and Chelsi, respectively. [1] South Kelsey was established in 1262 and was known at that time as Suthkelleseye. It is thought that the place-name means "island, or dry ground in marsh, of a man called Ceol." [2] [3]

Early Origins of the Kelsey family

The surname Kelsey was first found in Lincolnshire where one of the first records of the name was Brise de Keleseye who was listed there in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. Peter de Keleseve was listed in the same rolls at the same time. [4]

It is in this shire that North and South Kelsey are still found today. Over the many years, North Kelsey has remained a small village and civil parish with a population of 959 in 2001 and this includes the small hamlet of North Kelsey Moor. Today, South Kelsey is still smaller village with a population of 571 in 2001. [5]

One source claims the name is from Kelsale in Suffolk, [6] but most sources believe the name to be from Lincolnshire. William de Kelesey was listed in the Feet of Fines for Yorkshire in 1284 and later Robert Kelsey was listed in the Assize Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1394. [7]

"The Kelseys bear an old Kent name. The ancient Kelseys possessed Kelsey, Beckenham, in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1659 Colonel Kelsey represented Dover in Parliament, and was lieutenant of Dover Castle. A hundred years since, there were Kelseys in Hawking parish. " [8]

Early History of the Kelsey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kelsey research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1550, 1552, 1574, 1795, 1667, 1724, 1680, 1645, 1646 and 1651 are included under the topic Early Kelsey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kelsey Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Kelsey include Kelsey, Kelsy and others.

Early Notables of the Kelsey family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Brice Kelsey of Lincolnshire; Henry Kelsey (c.1667-1724), "the Boy Kelsey", who was an English fur trader, explorer, and sailor who played an important role in establishing the Hudson's Bay Company. Thomas Kelsey (died c. 1680) became an important figure in the government of Oliver Cromwell. Kelsey enlisted in the New Model Army and fought on the side of Parliament during the English Civil War, displaying a zeal...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kelsey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kelsey Ranking

In the United States, the name Kelsey is the 2,374th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [9]

United States Kelsey migration to the United States +

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Kelsey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Kelsey, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1632 [10]
  • Francis Kelsey, who landed in Maryland in 1663 [10]
Kelsey Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eliza Kelsey, who arrived in Virginia in 1719 [10]
  • Alexander Kelsey, who arrived in New England in 1720 [10]
  • John Kelsey, who landed in New England in 1721 [10]
  • John Kelsey, who settled in New England in 1756
  • Steven Kelsey, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1766
Kelsey Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Kelsey, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1830 [10]
  • G W Kelsey, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [10]
  • B Kelsey, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [10]
  • S Kelsey, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [10]
  • J Kelsey, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1855 [10]

Canada Kelsey migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kelsey Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Private Kelsey James U.E., "Kelsey, Kelsea, Kelsie, Celsey, Kilsey, Kelley" (b. 1742) born in Connecticut, USA from New York, USA who settled in Elizabeth Town [Elizabethtown], Leeds County, Ontario c. 1785 he enlisted in 1777 serving in the Kings Loyal Americans, Loyal Rangers under Jessups Corps [11]
Kelsey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Catherine Kelsey who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "City of Derry" departing 23rd May 1847 from London, England; the ship arrived on 4th July 1847 but she died on board [12]

Australia Kelsey migration to Australia +

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

Kelsey Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Richard Kelsey, who arrived in Port Misery aboard the ship "Duchess of Northumberland" in 1839 [13]
  • Thomas Kelsey, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Orleana" in 1840 [14]
  • Mr. George Kelsey, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Duncan" on 10th December 1840, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • Mr. Joseph Kelsey, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Duncan" on 10th December 1840, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [15]

New Zealand Kelsey 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:

Kelsey Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J. Kelsey, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th December 1850 [16]
  • William Kelsey, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alma" in 1857
  • W. F. Kelsey, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Pegasus" in 1865

West Indies Kelsey migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [17]
Kelsey Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Roger Kelsey, who settled in Barbados in 1654
  • Thomas Kelsey, who settled in Jamaica in 1690

Contemporary Notables of the name Kelsey (post 1700) +

  • Lloyd Albert Kelsey (1897-1948), American tug of war competitor at the 1920 Summer Olympics
  • Linda Kelsey (b. 1946), American five-time Emmy Award nominated and three-time Golden Globe nominated actress, best known for her role in the television series Lou Grant
  • Fred Kelsey (1884-1961), American actor and director
  • William H. Kelsey (1855-1859), U.S. Congressman
  • Benjamin S. Kelsey (1906-1981), American Air Force test pilot and aeronautical engineer, recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit and the Air Medal
  • Charles R. Kelsey, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Westbrook, 1908 [18]
  • Charles Kelsey, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Kings County 2nd District, 1860 [18]
  • Arthur Kelsey, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State Senate 30th District, 1978 [18]
  • Alexander Kelsey, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Ontario County, 1815-16 [18]
  • A. W. Kelsey, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for New York State Assembly from Cattaraugus County, 1915 [18]
  • ... (Another 48 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. Patrick  Kelsey, English Stoker aboard the HMCS Niobe from Bermondsey, England, United Kingdom who died in the Halifax Explosion (1917) [19]

Suggested Readings for the name Kelsey +

  • Brush, Sammis, Kelsey and Allied Families by Fannie M. Neumann.
  • A Genealogy of the Descendants of William Kelsey by Edward A. Claypool.

  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. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  7. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  9. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  10. 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)
  11. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  12. 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. 82)
  13. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND - 1839. Retrieved from
  14. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ORLEANA 1840. Retrieved from
  15. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th August 2021). Retrieved from
  16. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  18. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from
  19. Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from on Facebook