Show ContentsSoulley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Soulley was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Soulley family lived in Derbyshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Subligny, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Early Origins of the Soulley family

The surname Soulley was first found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were descended from a noble who accompanied King William whose home in Normandy was at Subligny near Avranche. Richard Subligny was Bishop of Avranches. They acquired considerable estates in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset by marriage with the Painells, but their main estates were at Newton Solney which later became Soley, and Sola.

"The men of Sole," according to Wace, were conspicuous at the battle of Hastings, "striking at close quarters, and holding their shields over their heads so as to receive the blows of the hatchet." The fief of Soules was held of the Honour of St. Lo at the time of the Conquest; but was soon afterwards granted to the chapter of Bayeux. Under Henry II., there was a William de Soules who held three knight's fees in Normandy; two of them in the Comte of Mortaine. [1]

Early rolls give a widespread use of the name and its many variants: William de la Sole was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls for Sussex in 1207; Thomas atte Sole was listed in Surrey in 1294; Hamo de Soles was found in Kent records in 1242; Osbert Sole was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for Norfolk in 1203; Walter Sole in Cambridgeshire in 1207; and Godfrey Osbert le Sol in the Hundredorum Rolls for Essex in 1274 and later again the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1275. [2]

The Kentish branch of this name (of whom John de Soles bought Betshanger in 1347) derived it from the manor of Soles (Domesday Book) in the parish of Nonington. This family was in early times most powerful in Scotland, where it gave its name to the barony of Soulistoun - now Saltoun - in East Lothian. Ranulph de Soulis witnesses a Stirling charter of David I.: and either he, or one of his successors, is styled Pincerna Regis. They were frequent benefactors to Newbottle Abbey and other monasteries; and " their power," says Sir Walter Scott, "extended over the South and West Marches, where they appear to have possessed the whole district of Liddesdale, with five rich baronies in Roxburghshire.[1]

Early History of the Soulley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Soulley research. Another 270 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1281, 1291, 1300, 1302, 1318, 1595 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Soulley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Soulley Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Sola, Soul, Soule, Sole, Sooley, Soole, Solley, Sollee, Soully, Sully, Soley, Solney and many more.

Early Notables of the Soulley family

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

Ireland Migration of the Soulley family to Ireland

Some of the Soulley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Soulley family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Soulley or a variant listed above: George Soule (1595-1679), who arrived in America on November 11, 1620 aboard the Mayflower; George and Alice Soley who settled in Virginia in 1663; Henry and Elizabeth Soley settled in Jamaica in 1774.



  1. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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