Show ContentsSorley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The old Scottish-Dalriadan name Sorley is derived from the personal name Somhairle, also known as Somerled. The Gaelic form of the name, Mac Somhairle, translates as son of Somhairle or son of Somerled.

Early Origins of the Sorley family

The surname Sorley was first found in Argyllshire where the Gaelic MacSomhairle 'son of Somhairle, ' or Somerled, Alexander M'Sommarrli was cited in 1355 to give evidence regarding the lands of Glassrie. "He was probably a Lamont of Monydrain in Glassrie as some of this family used the name Macsorley for several generations, but eventually resumed the name Lamont. The lands of Donald Machorle in the sheriffdom of Argyll were in ward, 1488. Other spellings of this Donald's name are McChorle, 1449, and McCowirlee, 1451. In 1511 Angus Lawmont alias M'Quorle was infeft in the three merk lands of Achynchoys. " [1]

"The MacSoirles of Letterfinlay in Lochaber, later called a sept of Clan Cameron, descended from Somerled, armiger to John of Yla, earl of Ross and lord of the Isles. In 1456 Somerled, the son of John, son of Somerled the armiger, received from the lord of the Isles a davoch of the lands of Glennyves along with the office of toscheachdeora (crowner) of all the lands of John of Yla, except the lands pertaining to his foster-child, Lachlan Maclean of Doward. Some writers on Clan history make the Macsorleys a sept of Clan Cameron, but this Somerled had received his charter thirty six years before the Camerons of Lochiel are known to have had any connection with the district." [1]

Early History of the Sorley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sorley research. Another 312 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1524, 1571, 1577, 1603, 1616, 1647, 1649, 1672, 1675, 1716, 1563, 1530, 1632, 1647, 1672, 1577, 1577, 1211, 1258, 1600, 1571, 1664, 1795, 1615, 1850 and are included under the topic Early Sorley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sorley Spelling Variations

Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of Sorley include MacSorley, MacSorely, MacSourly, MacCoullie, MacSorrill, MacSorrell, MacSurley and many more.

Early Notables of the Sorley family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Sorley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Sorley family to Ireland

Some of the Sorley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 270 words (19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Sorley migration to the United States +

These settlers arrived in North America at a time when the east was burgeoning with prosperous colonies and the expanses of the west were just being opened up. The American War of Independence was also imminent. Some Scots stayed to fight for a new country, while others who remained loyal went north as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of them went on to rediscover their heritage in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic Scottish events. The Sorley were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Sorley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Michael Sorley, aged 47, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Sarah Sorley, aged 45, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sorley (post 1700) +

  • Sorley MacLean (1911-1996), critically acclaimed Scottish poet

HMS Royal Oak
  • James Niven Sorley (1920-1939), British Stoker 2nd Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [3]

The Sorley 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: Per mare per terras
Motto Translation: By sea and by land.

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. 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)
  3. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook