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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Shelly family come from? What is the English Shelly family crest and coat of arms? When did the Shelly family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Shelly family history?

The history of the Shelly family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Sussex having derived from the Old English word shelf, meaning a wooded clearing on a ledge or plateau, and indicates that the original bearer lived near such a landmark.

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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 Shelly, Shelley and others.

First found in Sussex where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shelly research. Another 214 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1644, 1792, and 1822 are included under the topic Early Shelly History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 34 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shelly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 Shelly name or one of its variants:

Shelly Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Henry Shelly, who arrived in Bermuda in 1609-1610
  • Roger Shelly, who arrived in Virginia in 1637
  • Edward Shelly, who landed in Maryland in 1640-1648
  • Mathew Shelly, who arrived in Maryland in 1649-1652
  • Edw Shelly, who arrived in Virginia in 1650


Shelly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Christian Shelly, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743
  • Abraham Shelly, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743

Shelly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • James Shelly, aged 25, arrived in Missouri in 1845
  • Malick Shelly, aged 30, landed in Missouri in 1849
  • John Shelly, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Mrs. Shelly, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Andy Shelly, aged 28, landed in New York in 1854


Shelly Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Joanna Shelly, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Ezra Shelly, who arrived in Canada in 1838

Shelly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Margaret Shelly, aged 31, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander"

Shelly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Samuel Shelly landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • George Shelly, aged 32, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878
  • Ann Shelly, aged 31, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878
  • George Shelly, aged 11, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878
  • Rose Shelly, aged 9, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878


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  • Adrienne Shelly (1966-2006), American actress, director, and screenwriter
  • Tony Shelly, New Zealand, race car (Formula One) driver


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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: Fey e fidalgia
Motto Translation: Faith and fidelity

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  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  3. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  7. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Shelly Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shelly Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 February 2014 at 19:23.

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