Shirley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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.
Early Origins of the Shirley family
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. " 
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 feudal rolls provided the king of the time a method of cataloguing holdings for taxation, but today they provide a glimpse into the wide surname spellings in use at that time. William de Schirle was listed in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1219; Ralph de Shirleye in the Feet of Fines for Warwickshire in 1318; and William Shirley in the Feet of Fines for Surrey in 1442. 
The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 include: Johannes de Scherlay; and Willelmus de Scherlay as holding lands there at that time. 
The Register of the University of Oxford included: George Shyrlye, Leicestershire, 1573; Anthony Sherlye, Sussex, 1579; and John Shurley, Sussex, 1582.
"A family of Shirley possessed large estates in Hanbury, Staffordshire, in the 16th century. The Shirleys of Eatington, Warwickshire, have an ancient pedigree. There were also old distinguished families of the name in Leicestershire." 
Early History of the Shirley family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shirley 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 Shirley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Shirley Spelling Variations
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.
Early Notables of the Shirley 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 Shirley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
In the United States, the name Shirley is the 1,016th most popular surname with an estimated 29,844 people with that name.  However, in New Zealand, the name Shirley is ranked the 397th most popular surname with an estimated 1,649 people with that name. 
Migration of the Shirley family to Ireland
Some of the Shirley 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.
Shirley migration to the United States +
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, who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740
- Mary Shirley, who settled in New England in 1744
Shirley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Mary Shirley, aged 48, who landed in America in 1821 
- Stephen Shirley, who landed in New York in 1825 
- Albert Shirley, aged 21, who landed in New York in 1862 
Shirley migration to Canada +
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
Shirley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
- Ralph Shirley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
- William Shirley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
Shirley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
- Mr. Patrick Shirley, aged 13 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "George" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in June 1847 
- Mr. Peter Shirley, aged 30 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Larch" departing from the port of Sligo, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 
Shirley migration to Australia +
Emigration to Australia
followed the First Fleets
of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:
Shirley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
- Mr. George Shirley, (b. 1808), aged 18, English convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for life for burglary, transported aboard the "England"on 28th April 1826, arriving in New South Wales, Australia 
- Mr. Samuel Shirley, (b. 1796), aged 35, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" on 3rd October 1831, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1873 
- Miss Mary Ann Shirley, (b. 1814), aged 18, English convict who was convicted in Warwickshire, England for 7 years for house breaking, transported aboard the "Fanny" on 14th July 1832, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1888 
- James Shirley, English convict from Cheshire, who was transported aboard the "Anson" on September 23, 1843, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia 
Shirley migration to New Zealand +
Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:
Shirley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
- H Shirley, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840
- Thomas A Shirley, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
- Matthew Shirley, aged 15, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841
- Thomas Shirley, aged 34, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841
- Ann Shirley, aged 31, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arab" in 1841
- ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Contemporary Notables of the name Shirley (post 1700) +
- Paul Murphy Shirley (b. 1977), American former professional NBA basketball player
- Donald Walbridge "Don" Shirley (1927-2013), American-Jamaican jazz pianist and composer
- Robert Charles "Bob" Shirley (b. 1954), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1977 to 1987
- Robert Charles Shirley (b. 1954), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
- John Shirley (b. 1953), American fantasist, author of noir fiction, and science-fiction writer
- James A. Shirley, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, credited with 12 aerial victories
- Drew Shirley, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for justice of Texas State Supreme Court, 2008 
- Clyde Shirley, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from South Carolina, 1972 
- C. W. Shirley, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 19th District, 1895-96 
- C. C. Shirley, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Indiana, 1900 
- ... (Another 30 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Historic Events for the Shirley family +
- Thomas George Shirley, British Stoker Petty Officer aboard the HMS Dorsetshire (1945) when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he was wounded in the sinking 
Related Stories +
The Shirley 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.
Suggested Readings for the name Shirley +
- The History of the Lightfoot and Shirley Families by Annie Lightfoot Leith.
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
- ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
- ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
- ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
- ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 55)
- ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th April 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/england
- ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elizabeth
- ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 29th September 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/fanny
- ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Anson voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1843 with 499 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/anson/1843
- ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 22) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
- ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html