An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
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. Following the Norman line "genealogists assert that the Sheeleys 'came out of France with William the Conqueror.' Seulle, Shevels, or Sheuile, is found in the lists called the Roll of Battel Abbey." 
The surname Shelly was first found in Sussex where "there is no doubt of the antiquity of the house of Shelley, the accounts of the earlier descents of the family are very scanty. Originally of the county of Huntingdon, [now Cambridgeshire] the Shelleys are said to have removed into this county at a very early period."  The earliest record of the name was John and Thomas Shelley who followed the fortunes of Richard II and were subsequently beheaded in the first year of Henry IV's rule. The remaining brother who was not connected, retained his possessions. 
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.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shelly research. Another 307 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1297, 1567, 1644, 1792 and 1822 are included under the topic Early Shelly History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 69 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shelly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
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
Shelly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Shelly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Shelly Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
Shelly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Shelly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
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
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 15 January 2016 at 10:29.