Shorlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Shorlay is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Shorlay family lived in Chorley, Lancashire, a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Leyland. "The name of this place is derived from its situation on the river Chor, about a mile from its confluence with the Yarrow, and from the Saxon word Ley, a field; or from the family of Chorley, who were its ancient proprietors. The chief lordships of Chorley were subsequently held by the noble families of Ferrers and Lacy." 
Early Origins of the Shorlay family
The surname Shorlay was first found in Lancashire at Chorley.  We should now take a moment to explore the Cheshire branch of the family. It is generally believed that this was a latter branch as the first records there were found in the 16th century. Both townships there were originally held by the "Davenports from about the year 1400 until 1612, when it was purchased by the Downes family" and the "manor was possessed by the Harcourt family in the reign of Edward II., when the two coheiresses of Robert Harcourt married into the Cholmondeley family." 
In Berkshire, Walter de Cherlelaie was listed in the Pipe Rolls for 1201 and later in Lancashire, Elias de Chorlegh was listed at Putnam in 1350. 
The Wills at Chester listed Bridget Chorley, of Chorley, 1595 and John Chorley, of Chester, 1610. 
Early History of the Shorlay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shorlay research. Another 75 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1719, 1808, 1830, 1873, 1807, 1867, 1807 and 1867 are included under the topic Early Shorlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Shorlay Spelling Variations
Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Chorley, Chorly and others.
Early Notables of the Shorlay family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Josiah Chorley (d. 1719?), English Presbyterian minister, great-grandson of Richard Chorley of Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, Lancashire, and second of six sons of Henry Chorley of Preston. 
Henry Fothergill Chorley was a journalist, author, and art critic, born Dec. 15, 1808, at Blackley Hurst, in Lancashire. "Sprung from an old Lancashire family, he had a self-willed, eccentric character, and an erratic temperament, common to most of its members, which accorded ill with the rigid tenets of the Society of Friends, to which they belonged. At 8 years of age he lost his father, and...
Migration of the Shorlay family
To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Shorlay or a variant listed above: Joseph Chorley who settled in Delaware Bay in 1683; Henry settled in Philadelphia in 1829; Joseph settled in Virginia in 1690; Charles arrived in New Orleans in 1820..