Reilly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Reilly surname originally appeared in Gaelic as O Raghailligh, which means descendant of Raghallach.

Early Origins of the Reilly family

The surname Reilly was first found in County Cavan. They were known as the Princes of East Breffny, descended from Raghallaigh, Prince of Breffny in 981. They maintained their territory during the Anglo/ Norman invasion of Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, in 1172, but Sir John O'Reilly, Prince of Breffny surrendered the principality to Queen Elizabeth I thereby ensuring that his territories remained intact.

Early History of the Reilly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Reilly research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1598, 1669, 1630, 1695, 1689, 1640, 1703, 1689, 1646, 1691 and 1667 are included under the topic Early Reilly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reilly Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Reilly revealed spelling variations, including O'Reilly, O'Reilley, O'Reily, O'Rielly, O'Riely, O'Riley, O'Rilley, Reel and many more.

Early Notables of the Reilly family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Count John O'Reilly; Edmund O'Reilly (1598-1669), Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh; Hugh Reily (Reilly or O’Reilly) (c.1630-1695) Irish Member of Parliament for Cavan Borough in the Patriot Parliament of 1689; Philip Og O’Reilly (Gaelic was Phillip Óg O’Raghallaigh)(c.1640-1703), Irish...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Reilly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reilly World Ranking

In the United States, the name Reilly is the 901st most popular surname with an estimated 32,331 people with that name. [1] However, in Australia, the name Reilly is ranked the 542nd most popular surname with an estimated 7,126 people with that name. [2] And in New Zealand, the name Reilly is the 752nd popular surname with an estimated 966 people with that name. [3] The United Kingdom ranks Reilly as 446th with 14,545 people. [4]


United States Reilly migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Reilly family came to North America quite early:

Reilly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Christopher Reilly, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [5]
Reilly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Reilly, who landed in New York in 1801 [5]
  • Francis Reilly, aged 35, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1805 [5]
  • Catherine Reilly, aged 8, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1805 [5]
  • Brien Reilly, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [5]
  • Hugh Reilly, aged 19, who arrived in New York in 1812 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Reilly migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Reilly Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Reilly U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [6]
Reilly Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Reilly, who landed in Canada in 1834
  • Thomas Reilly, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Margaret Reilly, aged 23, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • John Reilly, aged 26, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • John Reilly, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Edwin" from Dublin, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Reilly migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Reilly Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Bryan Reilly, (Berny), (b. 1772), aged 21, Irish constable who was convicted in County Leitrim, Ireland for life for being an Irish rebel, transported aboard the "Boddingtons" on 15th February 1793, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he was part of the Castle Hill Revolt [7]
  • Mr. John Reilly, (Riely), Irish convict who was convicted in Armagh, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Boddingtons" on 15th February 1793, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
Reilly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James O'Brien Reilly, Irish convict who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Owen Reilly, (b. 1782), aged 38, Irish labourer who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for life for receiving stolen goods, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. Peter Reilly, (Ryley, Riley), (b. 1807), aged 13, Irish errand boy who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years for felony, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he was executed in 1829 [9]
  • Mr. Philip Reilly, (b. 1792), aged 28, Irish labourer who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. James Reilly, (b. 1806), aged 21, Irish boat man who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the “Countess of Harcourt“ on 14th February 1827, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he was killed in 1829 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Reilly migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Reilly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Reilly, aged 38, a bricklayer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Reilly, aged 34, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • William Reilly, aged 18, a bricklayer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • George Reilly, aged 15, a bricklayer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Edward Reilly, aged 13, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Reilly (post 1700) +

  • John Henry Matthew Reilly (1934-2021), American film and television actor who appeared on soap operas including General Hospital, Sunset Beach, and Passions
  • Jack Reilly (1932-2018), also known as Sean Petrahn, an American jazz pianist
  • Thomas F. Reilly (b. 1942), American attorney and politician, 45th Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Michael Eugene Reilly (b. 1949), American Major League Baseball umpire
  • John Good "Long John" Reilly (1858-1937), American Major League Baseball first baseman
  • Kevin P. Reilly (b. 1949), American academic, 6th President of the University of Wisconsin System
  • John Christopher Reilly (b. 1965), American film and theatre actor, nominee of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
  • James Francis Reilly II (b. 1954), American geologist and former NASA astronaut with over 853 hours in space [11]
  • Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007), American two-time Emmy-nominated actor, comedian, director and drama teacher
  • Bill Reilly, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from Arizona, 1998 [12]
  • ... (Another 101 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. John Reilly, Canadian Second Class Passenger from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [13]
HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. James Bryan Reilly (1920-1941), Australian Acting Engine Room Artificer 4th Class from Yallourn, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [14]
Winter Quarters coal mine
  • Mr. Thomas H. Reilly (b. 1859), "Riley", American mine worker from Barre, Pennsylvania who worked in the Winter Quarters coal mine on 1st May 1900, when 10 of the 25lb kegs of black powder exploded; he died in the explosion [15]


Suggested Readings for the name Reilly +

  • Reilly of Ballintlea by Joseph F. Reilly.

  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  3. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  4. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/boddingtons
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dorothy
  10. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 19th April 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt)
  11. ^ NASA Astronauts Homepage. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) James Reilly. Retrieved from http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/reilly.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  14. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  15. ^ Miners killed in Winter Quarters (retrieved 28th July 2021). Retrieved from http://www.carbon-utgenweb.com/miners.html


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