Show ContentsSealy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Sealy finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Sealy is a local type of surname and the Sealy family lived happy person who had good fortune. It is derive from the Old English word saelig, meaning happy and blessed. 1

Early listings of the name was typically seen a "sely" and "seli" and was referenced at least twice in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales:

"For sely is that deth, soth for to seyne, That, ofte y- cleped, com'th and endeth peyne"; and

"That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle This sely, jalous housbonde to bigyle."

Early Origins of the Sealy family

The surname Sealy was first found in Somerset where the first listings of name were found as a personal name: Sely atte Bergh; Sely Percy; and Sely Scury. All were found in Kirby's Quest temp. 1 Edward III (during the first year's reign of King Edward III. 2 The one exception of the aforementioned was William Sely.

Early feudal rolls provided the king of the time a method of cataloguing holdings for taxation, but today they provide a glimpse into the wide surname spellings in use through the ages. Richard Seli was listed in Lincolnshire c. 1200; Roger le Seli was found in the Pipe Rolls of 1205 in Herefordshire; Roger Cely in Shropshire in 1255; Richard Sely and John Celi in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1275; and Thomas Zely was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1327. Entries were also found as a woman’s name: Sela was listed in the Assize Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1219; Sely filia Nicholai in the Assize Rols for Worcestershire in 1221; and Sely Percy in the Subsidy Rolls for Somerset in 1327. 3

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 has some interesting entries too: William Sely in Oxfordshire; Egidius Sely in Norfolk; and John Sely in Gloucestershire. 4

Early History of the Sealy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sealy research. Another 131 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1602, 1618, 1621, 1623, 1626, 1630, 1668 and 1760 are included under the topic Early Sealy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sealy Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Cely, Ceeley, Celey, Ceely, Ceiley, Seely, Seeley and others.

Early Notables of the Sealy family

Notable amongst the family at this time was Sir Benet Celey of Plymouth; and Robert Seeley, also Seely, Seelye, or Ciely, (1602-1668) born in Bluntisham-cum-Earith, Huntingdonshire, he was an early Puritan settler who sailed with John Winthrop to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 helping establish Watertown, Wethersfield, and New Haven. He was born in Bluntisham-cum-Earith...
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sealy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sealy Ranking

In the United States, the name Sealy is the 6,518th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. 5

United States Sealy migration to the United States +

An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Sealy:

Sealy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hannah Sealy, who settled in America in 1733
  • Charles Sealy, who arrived in Maryland in 1775
Sealy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Sealy, who settled in Baltimore in 1830
  • Ann Sealy, who settled in Boston in 1849
  • D. Sealy, who arrived in San Francisco in 1852

Canada Sealy migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sealy Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Benjamin Sealy, who settled in Nova Scotia in 1762
  • Mr. Juston Sealy U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1784 6

Australia Sealy migration to Australia +

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

Sealy Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
Sealy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

New Zealand Sealy 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:

Sealy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Sealy, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cashmere" in 1854 9
  • Maude Sealy, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cashmere" in 1854 9
  • Alfred Sealy, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cashmere" in 1854 9

West Indies Sealy 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. 10
Sealy Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Frances Sealy, who settled in Jamaica in 1685

Contemporary Notables of the name Sealy (post 1700) +

  • Malik Sealy (1970-2000), American professional NBA basketball player
  • Anthony John "Tony" Sealy (b. 1959), English former football forward, current manager at Hong Kong FC
  • Irwin Allan Sealy (b. 1951), Indian writer who was shortlisted for the 1998 Booker prize
  • Glenroy Ricardo Sealy (b. 1940), Barbadian-born Canadian cricketer
  • James "Jim" Sealy (1876-1949), Irish rugby union player who won nine caps for Ireland
  • Scott Ryan Sealy (b. 1981), Trinidadian footballer
  • John Sealy Townsend (1868-1957), Irish physicist
  • John Sealy Livermore (b. 1918), American geologist

  1. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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 29th September 2020). Retrieved from
  8. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 151 passengers. Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 5th November 2010). Retrieved from
  10. on Facebook