Show ContentsRisley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Risley name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in the region of Risley in Bedfordshire. Risley is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. In this case, these place names are all derived from the Old English words hri-s, meaning "brush wood," and leah, which meant "a clearing."

Early Origins of the Risley family

The surname Risley was first found in Bedfordshire, at Riseley, a village and civil parish that dates back to at least the Domesday Book where it was listed as Riselai. [1] and mentioned at least 6 times, all in the same shire. At that time it was part of the Stodden hundred, land held by the Bishop of Coutances and 2 Frenchmen and 6 Englishmen held 6 hides for the bishop. [2] Risley Hall at Risley, Derbyshire dates back to the 11th century and is now a hotel and spa set in 17 acres. One of the first listings of the name was Sir Raulfe Risley of Chetwood (fl. 1247.)

Early History of the Risley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Risley research. Another 90 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1952, 1630, 1716, 1670, 1649 and 1650 are included under the topic Early Risley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Risley Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Risley include Riseley, Risley, Reasley, Reeasly and others.

Early Notables of the Risley family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Reverend Thomas Risley (1630-1716), an English Presbyterian minister who founded the Thomas Risley Chapel. Born at Newton-in-Makerfield, and baptised on 20 Sept. at Newchurch...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Risley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Risley Ranking

In the United States, the name Risley is the 7,578th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

United States Risley migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Risley or a variant listed above:

Risley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Risley (c. 1615-1648), who arrived at Boston on September 4, 1633 aboard the "Griffen," was an early Puritan settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut
Risley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Risley, who landed in America in 1760
Risley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elina Risley, aged 30, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1849 [4]
  • A O Risley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [4]
  • J Risley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • Tim Risley settled in San Francisco, California in 1852

Australia Risley migration to Australia +

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

Risley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Maria Risley, (b. 1780), aged 23, British Convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Experiment" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1859 [5]
  • Mr. William Risley, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "Earl St Vincent" on 6th April 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Edmund Risley, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Blundell" on 13th March 1844, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • George Risley, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Caucasian" [8]

West Indies Risley migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [9]
Risley Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • C. Risley who settled in Barbados with his servants in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Risley (post 1700) +

  • Mark Risley, American two-time Daytime Emmy Award and three-time Emmy Award winning director of children's film & television
  • Anna "Ann" Risley (b. 1949), American actress and comedian, best known as a cast member of the TV series Saturday Night Live (1980-1981)
  • Elijah Risley (1787-1870), American politician, U.S. Representative from New York (1849-1951)
  • William Charles "Bill" Risley (b. 1967), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1992 to 1998
  • Samuel Risley (b. 1821), Canadian maritime inspector for Upper Canada and Ontario, eponym of the CCGS Samuel Risley, a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and buoy tender
  • John Risley OC (b. 1948), Canadian businessman from Halifax, Nova Scotia, founder of Clearwater Fine Foods and Ocean Nutrition Canada
  • Sir Herbert Hope Risley KCIE CSI (1851-1911), British anthropologist and colonial administrator in India
  • Risley Claiborne "Pappy" Triche (1927-2012), American attorney and politician from Napoleonville, Louisiana

The Risley 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: Fato prudentia major
Motto Translation: Prudence is greater than fate.

  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th September 2021). Retrieved from
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from
  8. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 26 April 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Caucasian 1853. Retrieved
  9. ^ on Facebook