Seeley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The rich and ancient history of the Seeley family name dates back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It comes from 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 Seeley family

The surname Seeley 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 Seeley family

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

Seeley Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Seeley have been found, including Cely, Ceeley, Celey, Ceely, Ceiley, Seely, Seeley and others.

Early Notables of the Seeley family (pre 1700)

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 Seeley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Seeley Ranking

In the United States, the name Seeley is the 3,661st most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [5]

United States Seeley migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Among the first immigrants of the name Seeley, or a variant listed above to cross the Atlantic and come to North America were :

Seeley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Seeley, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630 [6]
Seeley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alice T. Seeley, aged 29, who immigrated to America from Cork, in 1904
  • Alfred H. Seeley, aged 20, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Arthur Seeley, aged 26, who landed in America, in 1917
  • Annie Seeley, aged 1, who landed in America from Gathabawn, Ireland, in 1920
  • Alfred Seeley, aged 49, who immigrated to the United States from Rochdale, England, in 1920
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Seeley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Seeley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Augustus Seeley U.E., (Seelye) (b. 1739) born in Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA who settled in Eastern District, Lancaster [South Glengarry], Ontario c. 1780 married to Mary Brisbin in 1770 having 4 children, he died in 1810 in Elizabethtown, Leeds County, Ontario [7]
  • Mr. Orange Seeley U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [7]
  • Mr. Ezekiel Seeley U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [7]
  • Mr. James Seeley U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [7]
Seeley Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Arthur Seeley, aged 51, who settled in Change Islands, Newfoundland, in 1923

Contemporary Notables of the name Seeley (post 1700) +

  • William Henry Harrison Seeley VC (1840-1914), the first American citizen to be awarded the Victoria Cross
  • Stuart William Seeley (1901-1978), American electrical engineer, best known for inventing the Foster-Seeley discriminator
  • Mabel Seeley (1903-1991), American mystery book author
  • Blossom Seeley (1891-1974), born Minnie Guyer, an American Vaudeville performer
  • William Henry Harrison Seeley (1840-1914), American recipient of the Victoria Cross, for deeds with the Royal Navy in Japan
  • Elias P. Seeley (1791-1846), American politician, 11th Governor of New Jersey (1833)
  • Charles W. Seeley, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1864 [8]
  • Castle Seeley, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Greene County, 1829 [8]
  • Burton D. Seeley, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Delegate to Michigan State Constitutional Convention from 10th Senatorial District, 1961 [8]
  • Amos Seeley, American politician, Representative from Ohio 6th District, 1986 [8]
  • ... (Another 33 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Ernest John Seeley (1918-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [9]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Robert F. Seeley, American Seaman Second Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [10]
  • Mr. William Eugene Seeley, American Seaman First Class from Connecticut, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [10]

Suggested Readings for the name Seeley +

  • The Seeley-Seely-Sellye Family of Connecticut and Ohio by Helene Bromwell Ault.
  • Descendants of Robert Seeley: Robert Seeley, born 1600/01, England, died October 1667, New York City, N.Y. by Esther Hogg Houtz.

  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. ^
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 22) . Retrieved from
  9. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from
  10. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook