Seelley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The illustrious surname Seelley 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 Seelley is a local type of surname and the Seelley family lived happy person who had good fortune. It is derive from the Old English word saelig, meaning happy and blessed. 
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 Seelley family
The surname Seelley 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.  The one exception of the aforementioned was William Sely.
The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 has some interesting entries too: William Sely in Oxfordshire; Egidius Sely in Norfolk; and John Sely in Gloucestershire. 
Early History of the Seelley family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Seelley research. Another 131 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1618, 1621, 1760, 1602, 1668 and 1630 are included under the topic Early Seelley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Seelley 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 Seelley family (pre 1700)
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Seelley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Seelley family
An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Seelley: Robert Seely, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 with the Winthrop Fleet; William Seely, who came to Barbados in 1635; John Seely, who came to Virginia in 1654.
Related Stories +
- ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
- ^ 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.
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)