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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The Pillay surname is generally thought to be habitational name from either the place name Pillay, in southern Yorkshire; or Pilley in Hampshire. These place names are both thought to derive from the Old English word "pil" or "pile," meaning a "post," and "leah," which refers to a clearing in the woods.


The surname Pillay was first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Pilley. The Norman influence of English history dominated after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. The family name was first referenced in the 13th century when they held estates in that shire near Sheffield.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Pilley, Pillet, Pilly, Pillay and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pillay research. Another 201 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1380, 1455, and 1487 are included under the topic Early Pillay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


More information is included under the topic Early Pillay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: John Pilley, who arrived in America in 1734; Thomas Pilley, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1834; Mark Pilley, who arrived in Nebraska in 1871; and Harry Pilley, who came to Canada in 1894..


  • Professor Gerald John Pillay FRSA, DL (b. 1953), South African Vice Chancellor & Rector of Liverpool Hope University
  • Geraldine Pillay (b. 1977), South African sprinter
  • Patrick Georges Pillay, Seychellois politician, former Minister of External Affairs of the Seychelles and Minister of Health
  • Michael Pillay (b. 1955), Seychellois former boxer and a founding member of the Seychelles Olympians Association
  • Barbara Lynne Pillay (b. 1950), New Zealand politician, Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Waitakere (2002-2008)
  • Navanethem "Navi" Pillay (b. 1941), South African jurist, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014)

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    Other References

    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. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
    3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
    4. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
    5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    6. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
    8. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
    9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    10. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
    11. ...

    The Pillay Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Pillay 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 14 July 2015 at 07:53.

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