Show ContentsRaley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Raley is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in the village of Raleigh in the county of Devon. This place-name was originally derived from the Old English ra leah meaning a meadow for deer. [1]

Early Origins of the Raley family

The surname Raley was first found in Devon where one of the first records of the name was William de Raley (or William de Ralegh or William Raleigh) (died 1250) a medieval judge, administrator and bishop. Born in Devon, he became Bishop of Winchester, "but it is doubtful to which of the four branches of the Devonshire Raleighs he belonged. In 1212 he was presented by King John to the church of Bratton, and was employed in judicial business in Lincolnshire and Cumberland in 1226-1227." [2]

"According to Fuller, they derived their name from 'a well-known town' in that county. I cannot discover any town, or even village, so called." [3]

However another source provides more clues about the bishop's origin: "Ralegh, Bishop of Winchester, 1244, was born at Ralegh, in the parish of Pilton, the original seat of this famous family. " [4]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list the following: Hugh de Ralegh in Devon; and Warin de Raleghe in Somerset. [5]

Early History of the Raley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Raley research. Another 153 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1552, 1618, 1586, 1646, 1641, 1605, 1666, 1626, 1600, 1659 and 1597 are included under the topic Early Raley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Raley Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Raley has been spelled many different ways, including Raleigh, Rawleigh, Rawley, Rawle, Rawles and others.

Early Notables of the Raley family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), a court favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, known for his expeditions to the New World; and his second son, Walter Raleigh or Ralegh (1586-1646), an English divine, Dean of Wells from 1641 until his death in a scuffle; and Carew Raleigh or Ralegh (1605-1666), first son of Sir Walter Raleigh...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Raley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Raley Ranking

In the United States, the name Raley is the 4,353rd most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Raley family to Ireland

Some of the Raley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 97 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Raley migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Raleys to arrive in North America:

Raley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Nicholas Raley, who landed in America in 1620 [7]
  • James Raley, who landed in Virginia in 1662 [7]
  • Margaret Raley, who arrived in Virginia in 1697 [7]
Raley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johannes Raley, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1754 [7]
Raley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Vincennes Raley, who arrived in New York in 1853 [7]
  • John Raley, who arrived in Ohio in 1861 [7]

Canada Raley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Raley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Anastasia Raley, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1899
  • Nellie Raley, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1899

Contemporary Notables of the name Raley (post 1700) +

  • J. Frank Raley Jr. (b. 1926), former Democrat State Senator from Maryland
  • Dr. John Wesley Raley (d. 1966), American author, president of Oklahoma Baptist University
  • Tom Raley, founder the Raley's Supermarkets, a chain of over 122 stores throughout America
  • William L. Raley, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Florida, 1972 [8]
  • Luther Raley, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1940 [8]
  • John W. Raley Jr. (b. 1932), American Republican politician, Mayor of Ponca City, Oklahoma, 1980-83; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, 1990-97 [8]
  • J. R. Raley, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oregon, 1940 [8]
  • Don Raley, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Supervisor of Pittsfield Township, Michigan, 1992 [8]
  • William de Raley (d. 1250), English medieval judge, administrator and bishop

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  5. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 10) . Retrieved from on Facebook