O'Kelley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Irish name O'Kelley has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Kelley is O Ceallaigh or Mac Ceallaigh. These names denote descendants of Ceallach. This personal name may be derived from the word "ceallach," which means "strife."

Early Origins of the O'Kelley family

The surname O'Kelley was first found in southwest Ireland, south of Dublin where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Kelly surname is conjecturally descended from King Colla da Crioch, who died in 357 A.D.

While most of the family claim Ireland as their heritage, we did find one reference in England: "Kelly, [Devon] is noteworthy as affording one of the few continuing local instances of families seated on the estates whence they take name. The Kellys of Kelly have held this manor from the time of Henry II. at least. " [1]

Henry II, King of England reigned from 1154 to 1189; so one may presume there is a relationship between the Irish and the English families, but this is the extent of our research at this time.

Early History of the O'Kelley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Kelley research. Another 112 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1518, 1238, 1253, 1555, 1597, 1621, 1695, 1701, 1690 and 1699 are included under the topic Early O'Kelley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Kelley Spelling Variations

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the O'Kelley family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Kelly, Kellie, O'Kelly, O'Killia and others.

Early Notables of the O'Kelley family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Daniel MacKelly; Sir Edward Kelley or Kelly, also known as Edward Talbot (1555-1597), Irish occultist and self-declared spirit medium; Charles O’Kelly (1621-1695) was an Irish soldier and writer from Aughrim, County Galway; and James Gilliam, also known as James Kelly, (died 1701), an English pirate active in the Indian Ocean during the 1690s and was...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Kelley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Kelley Ranking

In the United States, the name O'Kelley is the 7,187th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [2]

United States O'Kelley migration to the United States +

A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name O'Kelley or a variant listed above:

O'Kelley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Timothy O'Kelley, aged 18, who immigrated to the United States, in 1894
O'Kelley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Margaret O'Kelley, aged 22, who settled in America from Sligo, Ireland, in 1908
  • Catherine O'Kelley, aged 18, who landed in America from Sligo, Ireland, in 1908
  • H. O'Kelley, aged 36, who immigrated to America, in 1922
  • Michael O'Kelley, aged 43, who landed in America, in 1922
  • Timothy O'Kelley, aged 18, who settled in America from Castletown Bere, Co. Cork, Ireland, in 1924
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Kelley (post 1700) +

  • William Clark O'Kelley (1930-2017), American jurist, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (1996-2017)
  • Patricia Beth "Tricia" O'Kelley (b. 1968), American actress, known currently for her role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2011-2012)
  • Edward Capehart O'Kelley (1858-1904), American gunman and outlaw who murdered Robert Ford, who had killed Jesse James
  • Erin O'Kelley (b. 1986), American beauty queen from Asheville, North Carolina
  • Sean O'Kelley (b. 1975), Irish footballer

The O'Kelley 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: Turris Fortis Mihi Deus
Motto Translation: God is a strong tower to me.

  1. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  2. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm

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