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

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

The present generation of the Shirley family is only the most recent to bear a name that dates back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name comes from having lived in the parish of Shirley found in the counties of Derbyshire, Surrey Hampshire and the West Midlands.


Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Shirley include Shirley, Shurley, Sherley, Shirleigh and others.

First found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times. Some of the family came Herefordshire where they held Shurley Manor for centuries.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shirley research. Another 325 words(23 lines of text) covering the years 1050, 1527, 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 Shirley History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 417 words(30 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shirley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Shirley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 157 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Shirley were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Shirley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • James Shirley, who arrived in New England in 1730
  • John Shirley, who landed in New England in 1730
  • William Shirley, who landed in New England in 1731
  • William Shirley settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740
  • Mary Shirley settled in New England in 1744

Shirley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Mary Shirley, aged 48, landed in America in 1821
  • Stephen Shirley, who landed in New York in 1825
  • Albert Shirley, aged 21, landed in New York in 1862

Shirley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Ralph Shirley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Wm Shirley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749

Shirley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • James Shirley, English convict from Cheshire, who was transported aboard the "Anson" on September 23, 1843, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia

Shirley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • H Shirley landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840
  • Thomas A Shirley landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • Matthew Shirley, aged 15, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841
  • Thomas Shirley, aged 34, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841
  • Ann Shirley, aged 31, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841


  • John Shirley (b. 1953), American fantasist, author of noir fiction, and science-fiction writer
  • Robert Charles Shirley (b. 1954), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Robert Charles "Bob" Shirley (b. 1954), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1977 to 1987
  • Donald Walbridge "Don" Shirley (1927-2013), American-Jamaican jazz pianist and composer
  • Paul Murphy Shirley (b. 1977), American former professional NBA basketball player
  • Jerry Shirley (b. 1952), English rock drummer, best known as a member of the band Humble Pie
  • Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley DBE, FREng, FRSA, FBCS (b. 1933), German-born, British businesswoman and philanthropist who arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport child refugee
  • Phillip Shirley, Chief Commissioner, New South Wales
  • Daniel A. Shirley (b. 1979), New Zealand silver and four-time bronze medalist badminton player
  • Andrew "Drew" Philip Shirley (b. 1974), Puerto Rican-born rock guitarist



  • The History of the Lightfoot and Shirley Families by Annie Lightfoot Leith.

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.


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  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. 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. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  6. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  7. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  11. ...

The Shirley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shirley 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 8 January 2015 at 12:49.

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