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

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

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.


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.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Silliman research. Another 183 words(13 lines of text) covering the year 1361 is included under the topic Early Silliman History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Silliman Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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, Conn in 1630

Silliman Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • C. H. Silliman, aged 44, who emigrated 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 emigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • Charles H. Silliman, aged 58, who emigrated to America, in 1910
  • Ella D. Silliman, aged 61, who emigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • Frederick H. Silliman, aged 48, who landed in America, in 1920


  • Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864), American chemist, one of the first American professors of science at Yale University, the first to distill petroleum
  • Ron Silliman (b. 1946), American poet who has written and edited over 30 books
  • 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
  • Michael Barnwell Silliman (1944-2000), American Olympic gold medalist, later professional NBA basketball player
  • Benjamin Silliman Jr. (1816-1885), American professor of chemistry at Yale University
  • Lynn Silliman (1959-1976), American bronze medalist rower at the 1976 Summer Olympics


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  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  8. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The Silliman Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Silliman 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 29 July 2013 at 23:24.

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