Show ContentsKerley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Kerley is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Kerley family lived at Kirkley, a township in the parish of Poneteland in the county of Northumberland. The family name Kerley became popular in England after the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror gave his friends and relatives most of the land formerly owned by Anglo-Saxon aristocrats. An early roll lists John de Curli of England, 1199 and this source presumes the name is from Thomas de Curleio in Normandy, 1198. [1]

Another source postulates the name means "dweller near Curley (bend or turn in the road), in Scotland; one who came from Curley, in France; one who had curly hair." [2]

Early Origins of the Kerley family

The surname Kerley was first found in Sussex where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Ashburnham, anciently Esseborne. These estates, including three salt houses, were granted to Robert de Criel, a Norman Knight, by William, Duke of Normandy for his assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D., and is so noted in the Domesday Book, [3] a survey taken of landholders in England in 1086.

Robert de Criel was from the Castle of Criel near Criel-sur-Mer in the arrondisement of Dieppe. Part of the walls of this huge castle are still standing, and there are also traces of a moat. Robert's chief tenant was the Count of Eu. [1]

Early English rolls showed a wide variety of spellings in Latin and early English: Rannulf de Curleio was listed at Hinton, Hampshire c. 1110; Robert de Curli was found in the Pipe Rolls for Oxfordshire in 1190; William de Curly in the Feet of Fines for Warwickshire 1227-1228; Benedict le Curly in Staffordshire in 1271; and Thomas Curly in the Subsidy Rolls for Warwickshire in 1332. [4]

Early History of the Kerley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerley research. Another 257 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1295, 1339, 1489, 1679, 1678, 1679, 1575, 1647, 1628, 1629, 1632, 1629, 1637, 1724 and are included under the topic Early Kerley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerley 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 Crull, Crul, Cruel, Criel, Cryle, Kriel, Krile, Crile, Kirle, Kyrle, Cyrle, Kreel, Creel, Crulle, Crule, Curl, Curle, Girl, Cryll and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerley family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Walter Curle (Curll) (1575-1647), an English bishop, a close supporter of William Laud, Bishop of Rochester in 1628, Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1629...
Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerley Ranking

In the United States, the name Kerley is the 6,642nd most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Kerley family to Ireland

Some of the Kerley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Kerley 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 Kerley or a variant listed above:

Kerley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edmund Kerley, aged 22, from Hampshire, who arrived aboard the ship "Confidence" in 1638 in New England and Boston stated, found in Sudbury. [6]
  • William Kerley, who arrived aboard the ship "Confidence" in 1638 in New England and Boston stated, found in Newbury. [6]
  • Henry Kerley, who arrived in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1653 [6]
Kerley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Kerley, who landed in New York in 1836 [6]
  • Owen Kerley, who landed in New York in 1838 [6]

Canada Kerley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kerley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Kerley Richard U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John West], New Brunswick, Canada c. 1784 [7]

New Zealand Kerley 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:

Kerley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary Jane Kerley, (b. 1835), aged 23, English domestic servant from England travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st September 1858 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Kerley (post 1700) +

  • Jack Kerley, American author
  • David Kerley (b. 1957), correspondent for ABC News, based in Washington, D.C
  • A. James Kerley, American academic, selected to be the President of Gulf Coast Community College in 2007
  • Edward T. Kerley, American politician, Mayor of Flagstaff, Arizona, 1955-56 [9]
  • Donald Neil Kerley AM (1934-2022), Australian rules footballer and coach, best known for taking three clubs to four South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premierships and for playing 32 state games for South Australia
  • Neil Kerley (b. 1934), former Australian rules football player and coach
  • James Kerley, Australian TV and radio presenter
  • Henry Charles "Harry" Kerley, Australian rules footballer
  • Ellis R. Kerley (1924-1998), Canadian anthropologist, pioneer in the field of forensic anthropology
  • Sir Peter Kerley CVO (1900-1978), Irish radiologist, eponym of "Kerley B lines" which are a finding of congestive heart failure

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. William Thomas Kerley (d. 1912), aged 28, English Assistant Saloon Steward from Salisbury, Wiltshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by ASS Ottawa and was buried at sea [10]

The Kerley 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: Nil moror ictus
Motto Translation: I do not care for blows.

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. 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
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from
  10. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook