An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
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.
The surname Shirley 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. "  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." 
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.
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
Shirley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Shirley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
Shirley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Shirley 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: Honor virtutis praemium
Motto Translation: Honor is the reward of virtue.
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 20 March 2016 at 23:49.