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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Welsh

Where did the Welsh Motley family come from? What is the Welsh Motley family crest and coat of arms? When did the Motley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Motley family history?

The Motley surname comes from when the Motley family lived in the settlement of Medlicott in the English border county of Shropshire. The surname Motley belongs to the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

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Although there are not an extremely large number Welsh surnames, there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations of those surnames. This variety of spellings began almost immediately after the acceptance of surnames within Welsh society. As time progressed, these old Brythonic names were eventually were recorded in English. This process was problematic in that many of the highly inflected sounds of the native language of Wales could not be properly captured in English. Some families, however, did decide to modify their own names to indicate a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even a patriotic affiliation. The name Motley has seen various spelling variations: Medlicot, Medlicott, Medlycot, Medlycott, Medlicote, Medleycot, Medleycott, Medleycote, Modlicot, Modlicote and many more.

First found in Shropshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say long before the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Motley research. Another 209 words(15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Motley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Motley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Motley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 142 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in search of land, work, and freedom. These immigrants greatly contributed to the rapid development of the new nations of Canada and the United States. They also added a rich and lasting cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Motley:

Motley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Thomas Motley, who landed in Virginia in 1665
  • Jno Motley, who arrived in Virginia in 1666
  • Robert Motley came to Maryland in 1674
  • Robert Motley, who arrived in Maryland in 1674
  • Mary Motley, who arrived in Maryland in 1678


Motley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Tho Motley, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • John Motley, who landed in New England in 1738

Motley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Peter Motley, 21, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Peter Motley, aged 21, landed in New York in 1812
  • W.G. Motley, aged 40, who settled in America, in 1893
  • Louisa Motley, aged 27, who landed in America, in 1894
  • William G. Motley, aged 40, who landed in America, in 1895


Motley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • John Motley, aged 29, who landed in America from Liverpool, in 1904
  • James Motley, aged 39, who emigrated to America, in 1905
  • Thornton N. Motley, aged 47, who emigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • John Lathrop Motley, aged 31, who emigrated to the United States, in 1910
  • Warren Motley, aged 27, who emigrated to the United States, in 1910


Motley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Walter Motley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Walter Motley, Margaret Motley, and Susan Motley all came to Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Margt Motley, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Susan Motley, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Motley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Motley, aged 20, a shoemaker, arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1875
  • Mary A. Motley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ashmore" in 1882

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  • John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877), American historian and diplomat
  • Marion Motley (1920-1999), American Football fullback and linebacker, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968
  • Archibald John Motley Jr. (1891-1981), African-American Harlem Renaissance painter
  • Willard Motley (1909-1965), African-American writer
  • Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005), African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, President of Manhattan, New York City
  • Darryl DeWayne Motley (b. 1960), American former Major League Baseball outfielder
  • Dr Eric Lamar Motley (b. 1972), American Vice President of the Aspen Institute
  • Langhorne Anthony Motley (b. 1938), American diplomat, former United States Ambassador to Brazil (19811983)
  • Ronald L. Motley (1944-2013), American trial attorney, and a principal of Motley Rice LLC
  • George Motley, American escaped slave and Civil War soldier

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  • A Bicentennial History of Eleven Pioneer Families by Mary M. Beadles.
  • The Families of Williams, Kenoyer, New, Motley by Lola Bernice Frakes.
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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: Dat cura quietem
Motto Translation: Vigilance ensures tranquility.

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  1. Davies, R. R. The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
  2. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  5. Bradsley C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print.
  6. Morgan, T. J. Morgan and Prys Morgan. Welsh Surnames. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1985. Print.
  7. 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).
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Motley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Motley Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 5 August 2014 at 21:26.

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