Silliman History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Silliman is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The Silliman family lived in Devon. Ancient records reveal the name Silliman is derived from the Old English word saelig, meaning one who is happy and blessed.

Early Origins of the Silliman family

The surname Silliman was first found in Devon where they were granted lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were Lords of the manor of Rackenford, and were conjecturally descended from Jocelyn who held the lands at the time of the taking of the Domesday Book in 1086 A.D. from Baldwin, the Sheriff. The family may have originated in Cornwall as in "John Silly, gentleman of St. Wenn, altered his name from Ceely to Silly." [1] No dates were given with the previous quote. However, we did find another note about the family in the parish of Helland, Cornwall. "Another barton called Kernick, which was for some time the residence of a family called Silly, became the property of Sir John Morshead." [2]

One of the earliest records of the name was Henry de Sully (or Soilli) (died 1195), was a medieval monk, prior of Bermondsey Abbey in 1186, Bishop of Worcester (1193-1195) and Abbot of Glastonbury.

William, Count of Sully, also known as William the Simple (c. 1085-c. 1150) was Count of Blois and Count of Chartres from 1102 to 1107, and jure uxoris Count of Sully. William was the eldest son of Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and Adela of Normandy, daughter of William the Conqueror. In 1104, William married Agnes of Sully, the heiress to the lordship of Sully-sur-Loire. Together they had six children including Henry de Sully (died 1189), the medieval Abbot of Fécamp and Bishop-designate of Salisbury and Archbishop-elect of York in 1140.

Over in France, Maurice de Sully (died 1196) was Bishop of Paris from 1160 until his death. He is best known for overseeing the building of Notre Dame Catherdaral.

Early History of the Silliman family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Silliman research. Another 67 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1361, 1283, 1388, 1680, 1729 and 1718 are included under the topic Early Silliman History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Silliman Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Silley, Silly, Cele, Sully, Silliman and others.

Early Notables of the Silliman family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Sully (born c.1283-c.1388), of Ruxford and Iddesleigh in Devonshire, an English knight. The family were traditional lords of the manor of Iddesleigh in Devonshire. He was noted for giving evidence in Scrope v Grosvenor, one of the earliest heraldic law cases brought in England. At the time, it is claimed that his age was 105. Henry...
Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Silliman Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Silliman migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Silliman name or one of its variants:

Silliman Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Daniel Silliman, who landed in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1630 [3]
Silliman Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • C. H. Silliman, aged 44, who immigrated to the United States, in 1896
Silliman Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Blanche G. Silliman, aged 38, who settled in America, in 1904
  • A.W. Silliman, aged 38, who immigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • Charles H. Silliman, aged 58, who immigrated to America, in 1910
  • Ella D. Silliman, aged 61, who immigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • Frederick H. Silliman, aged 48, who landed in America, in 1920
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Silliman (post 1700) +

  • Horace Brinsmade Silliman (1825-1910), American businessman and philanthropist who gave a 10,000 gift to start Silliman Institute, now Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines
  • Lynn Silliman (1959-1976), American bronze medalist rower at the 1976 Summer Olympics
  • Benjamin Silliman Jr. (1816-1885), American professor of chemistry at Yale University
  • Michael Barnwell Silliman (1944-2000), American Olympic gold medalist, later professional NBA basketball player
  • Ron Silliman (b. 1946), American poet who has written and edited over 30 books
  • Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864), American chemist, one of the first American professors of science at Yale University, the first to distill petroleum
  • Aldine Silliman Kieffer (1840-1904), American music writer
  • Robert Silliman Hillyer (1895-1961), American poet and academic awarded the 1934 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. ^ 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) on Facebook
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