Shirelay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name Shirelay has a long Anglo-Saxon heritage. The name comes from when a family lived in the parish of Shirley found in the counties of Derbyshire, Surrey Hampshire and the West Midlands.
Early Origins of the Shirelay family
The surname Shirelay was first found in Derbyshire at Shirley, a parish, in the hundred of Appletree. "Shirley is so called from the Saxon, signifying 'a clear place or pasture;' and gives name to a family which has for ages been considered one of the most honourable in the county. Part of the lands still belong to the Shirleys, who are now represented by Earl Ferrers. The ancient Hall, now converted into a farmhouse, still retains features of its original character; and the moat by which it was surrounded is yet remaining. " 
Also in the early history of the family, the hamlet of Hopewell in Derbyshire was of great significance. "The manor of 'Opewelle' was held by Ralph Fitz-Hubert, under the Bishop of Chester, at the time of the Domesday survey; in 1296 it was held by Ralph de Shirley, under the Earl of Lancaster." 
Some of the family ventured to Herefordshire where they held Shurley Manor for centuries. Another branch was found at Staunton-Harrold in Leicestershire. The manor was passed to the Shirleys by marriage with the Staunton family, in 1423 and became property of Robert Shirley, 13th Baron Ferrers of Chartley, the first Earl Ferrers. That branch claim descent from George Shirley (died 1622) of Astwell Castle, Northamptonshire. Next we must explore Wiston in Sussex as that was the family seat of another branch of the family. "Wiston House, a mansion in the Elizabethan style, erected by Sir Thomas Shirley about 1576, has been taken down and rebuilt by the present proprietor. The church, situated in the park, is chiefly in the decorated style, and consists of a nave, chancel, and south aisle, at the east end of which is a sepulchral chapel; there are monuments to Sir William Shirley, Sir Thomas Shirley and his wife." 
Early History of the Shirelay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shirelay research. Another 217 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1050, 1527, 1366, 1456, 1527, 1568, 1631, 1625, 1542, 1612, 1565, 1635, 1603, 1581, 1628, 1596, 1666, 1624, 1683, 1654, 1656, 1650, 1717, 1685, 1686, 1687, 1694, 1771, 1741, 1749, 1753, 1756, 1760, 1589, 1569, 1647 and 1641 are included under the topic Early Shirelay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Shirelay 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 Shirelay have been found, including Shirley, Shurley, Sherley, Shirleigh and others.
Early Notables of the Shirelay family (pre 1700)
Notables of this surname at this time include: John Shirley (1366?-1456), the English translator and transcriber, said to have been the son of a squire who had travelled widely in foreign countries; Sir John Shurley (died 1527), an English noble who held the financial office of Cofferer to the King during the reign of Henry VIII; Sir John Shurley (1568-1631) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons for Sussex in 1625; Major General Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands; Sir Thomas Shirley (1542-1612), of Wiston in Sussex, an English Member of Parliament and government official; Sir...
Another 140 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shirelay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Shirelay family to Ireland
Some of the Shirelay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Shirelay family
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. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Shirelay, or a variant listed above: Robert Sherly settled in Maryland in 1633; Mary Shirley settled in New England in 1744; William Shirley settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740; he was of the Wiston, Sussex branch..
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The Shirelay 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: Honor virtutis praemium
Motto Translation: Honor is the reward of virtue.
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.