Searlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Searlay is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Searlay family lived in Cornwall. Their name, however, is a reference to Serlo, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. However, may of the family remained in Normandy as seen by Robert Sorel who was listed there (1180-1195.) [1]

Early Origins of the Searlay family

The surname Searlay was first found in Cornwall where the name can be found from ancient times as both a surname and a forename. Sarlo Iuuenis was one of the first on record in 1091-1093. [2]

"Thankes or Thancks, a delightful residence in the [parish of Antony in East, Cornwall] is situated near Torpoint, on the margin of the Hamoaze. This place originally took its name from a family called Thomke, who resided on it, and to whom it was enfranchised in the reign of Henry V. From the Thonke family it passed to the Searles, and from the Searles it was conveyed to the Warne family." [3]

In the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, the name continues to be found in both ways: Sarle Tinctor in Huntingdonshire and Matilda Sarle in Cambridgeshire. [4]

There is a history of an association with clergy as shown by Robert Saryll, clericus in 1412 in Yorkshire, and few years later in the same area Thomas Serle, capallanus, filius Roberti Sarle, clerici in 1438. [2]

One would presume that these latter two listings were father and son who both followed the same profession.

Early History of the Searlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Searlay research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1620, 1683, 1656, 1659, 1777, 1849, 1777, 1789, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1799, 1800 and 1802 are included under the topic Early Searlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Searlay Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Searle, Searles, Searl, Sarl, Sarrell, Serrell and others.

Early Notables of the Searlay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Anthony Searle of Thanks at the time of King Richard III; and Samuel Serle (1620-1683), an English politician, Member of Parliament for Honiton (1656-1659.) Thomas Searle (1777-1849), was a British rear-admiral, "son of James Searle of Staddlescombe, Devonshire, was born on 29 May 1777. He entered the navy in November 1789, served on the Mediterranean, home, and Newfoundland stations, and in 1796 was in the Royal George, flagship of Lord Bridport, by whose interest he was made lieutenant, on 19 Aug., to...
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Searlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Searlay family to Ireland

Some of the Searlay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Searlay family

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Searlay name or one of its variants: John Searl settled in Barbados in 1680 with his servants; Bridget Searle settled in Virginia in 1623 with her husband; Francis, John Searle settled in Virginia in 1635.



  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  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)


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