Quelly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

There are a multitude of ancient meanings and variations associated with the Irish surnames that are now common throughout the modern world. The original Gaelic form of the name Quelly is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful." [1]

Early Origins of the Quelly family

The surname Quelly was first found in County Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge), anciently the Deise region, on the South coast of Ireland in the Province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. They are of the ancient kingdom of Ossory (Osraighe), conjecturally descended from the Kings and gentry of Ossory, the progenitor of which was Conla, the second son of Breasal Breac, King of Leinster, and descended to Ceallach who was ancestor of Teige McGillpatrick. [2]

"Kiely belongs mainly to Cos. Waterford and Limerick." [3]

Early History of the Quelly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Quelly research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1630, 1645, 1689 and 1863 are included under the topic Early Quelly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Quelly Spelling Variations

Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Quelly are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include Keily, Keiley, Keilly, Kiley, Kily, Kiely, Kieley, Keeley, Keely, Queally, Quealy, Quelly, O'Keily, O'Keilly, O'Kiely and many more.

Early Notables of the Quelly family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Quelly family

Under the rule of England, land ownership in Ireland changed dramatically, and many native Irish families found themselves renting out land to farm from absentee owners. This was one of the prime reasons that immigration to North America began in the late 18th century: Irish farmers dreamed of owning their own parcel of land to work for themselves. At this point, the immigrants were at least of modest means for the passage across the Atlantic was often quite dear. In the 1840s the Great Potato Famine created an exodus of people of quite different means. These people were most often destitute: they either sold anything they had to gain a passage or they were sponsored by philanthropic societies. Many of these immigrants were sick from disease and starvation: as a result many did not survive the long transatlantic journey. Although those settlers that did survive were often despised and discriminated against by people already established in these nations, they were critical to rapid development of the powerful industrial nations of the United States and the country that would later become known as Canada. An examination of immigration and passenger lists shows many persons bearing the name of Quelly or one of its variants: William Keeley who landed in America in 1765; Dennis and Ellen Keeley settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1849; Michael Keeley settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852.



  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0)


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