Selby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Selby family

The surname Selby was first found in North Yorkshire at Selby, a town and civil parish that dates back to the time of the Vikings as archaeological investigations in the area have revealed extensive remains, including waterlogged deposits in the core of the town dating from that time. One of the first records of the place name was in c. 1030 where it was listed as Seleby. A little more than 50 years later, it was listed as Salebi in the Domesday Book and literally meant "farmstead or village near sallow-trees" having derived from the Old English word "sele" + the Old Scandinavian word "by." [1]

"A town in Yorkshire, and a township in Northumberland. Riddleston, in the latter county, was granted in 1272, by King Edward I., to Sir Walter de Selby, and it has ever since remained in the possession of his descendants." [2] "It was a common Yorkshire surname, especially as Seleby, in the reign of Edward I." [3]

It is understood to be the traditional birthplace of King Henry I, fourth son of William the Conqueror, in 1068/69. It is best known for Selby Abbey, which it is claimed that when Benedict of Auxerre in 1069 saw three swans on a lake in Selby, he understood that to be a sign of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, hence the Arms of Selby Abbey has three swans. The township of Moat in Cumberland was the scene of many battles with the Scots of the north. "It more than once fell into the power of the Scots, and on one occasion was taken by David, King of Scotland, who caused the two sons of the governor, Sir Walter Selby, to be strangled." [4]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: William de Seleby; Johannes de Selby; and Willelmus de Selby. [5]

The Shelby or Eshelby variants are interesting. The variants still hail from Yorkshire but unique entries for these families appear in early rolls: John de Eskelby in the Subsidy Rolls in 1327; Richard Exilby as a Freeman of York in 1490 and Thomas Eshelby as a Freeman of York in 1672. Some of these spellings have been lost through the centuries. "Both surnames might also derive from Asselby (East Riding of Yorkshire) which is found as Askelby 1282, Eskilby 1199 and Axilbye 1551." [6]

Early History of the Selby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Selby research. Another 208 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1667, 1744, 1618, 1788, 1867, 1788, 1806, 1804, 1812 and 1823 are included under the topic Early Selby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Selby Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Selby, Selbie, Shelby, Eshelby, Exelby, Axelby and others.

Early Notables of the Selby family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include John Prideaux Selby (1788-1867), English naturalist, born in Bondgate Street, Alnwick, on 23 July 1788. He was the eldest son of George Selby of Beal and Twizell, Northumberland. "The father was head of one branch of an old and influential family long prominent in the history of Northumberland and the borders. Five members of the family received the honour of knighthood at James I's hands. One of them, Sir George Selby, mayor of Newcastle, obtained the sobriquet of King's Host from the sumptuous manner in which he entertained the king on his progresses to and...
Another 155 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Selby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Selby Ranking

In the United States, the name Selby is the 2,577th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [7]


United States Selby migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Selby Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Selby, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [8]
  • Robert Selby, who settled in Virginia in 1636
  • Katherine Selby, who arrived in Maryland in 1649-1650 [8]
  • George Selby, who arrived in Maryland in 1657 [8]
  • Edward Selby, who landed in Maryland in 1658 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Selby Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hannah Selby, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [8]
  • Mrs. Selby, who settled in Boston with her children in 1712
  • Mrs. Selby, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1712 [8]
  • Mary Selby, who settled in Virginia in 1720
  • Francis Selby, who settled in Maryland in 1741
Selby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Stephen Selby, who arrived in America in 1809 [8]
  • W R Selby, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]
  • H Selby, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]

Canada Selby migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Selby Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Hall Selby, aged 30 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Ajax" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle on 18th June 1847 [9]

Australia Selby migration to Australia +

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

Selby Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Selby, (b. 1814), aged 21, English convict who was convicted in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England for life for highway robbery, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [10]
  • Samuel Selby, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840 [11]
  • Mary Ann Selby, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840 [11]
  • Robert Selby, aged 22, a labourer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Catherine" in 1851 [12]
  • Hannah Selby, aged 22, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Catherine" in 1851 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Selby 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:

Selby Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr Selby, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Tyne
  • Henry Selby, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Jane
  • John Selby, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Mr. Selby, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Jane" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [13]
  • Mr. Selby, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Berhampore" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th June 1849 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Selby (post 1700) +

  • Mark Anthony Selby (b. 1983), English professional snooker and pool player, the 2006 WEPF World Eight-ball Champion, current World Snooker Champion
  • Mark Otis Selby (1960-2017), American blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer
  • William Frank Selby (b. 1970), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1996 to 2003
  • Josh Selby (b. 1991), American professional basketball point guard
  • Hubert "Cubby" Selby Jr. (1928-2004), American writer, best known for his novels Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964) and Requiem for a Dream (1978)
  • David Lynn Selby (b. 1941), American character and stage actor
  • Mark Otis Selby, American blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer
  • Guy W. Selby, American Republican politician, Mayor of Flint, Michigan, 1909-11 [14]
  • George W. Selby, American politician, Mayor of Coffeyville, Kansas, 1877 [14]
  • Charles V. Selby Jr., American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Harrison County, 1966 [14]
  • ... (Another 39 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. William F Selby, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [15]


The Selby 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: Semper sapit suprema
Motto Translation: He is always wise about the highest matters.


Suggested Readings for the name Selby +

  • The Merediths and Selveys of Virginia and West Virginia by Joseph N. Meredith.
  • Selby Families of Colonial America by Donna Valley Russell.

  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 54)
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) WILLIAM NICOL. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840WilliamNichol.htm
  12. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CATHERINE 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Catherine.htm
  13. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  14. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 9) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  15. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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