Suly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Suly is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Suly family lived in Devon. Ancient records reveal the name Suly is derived from the Old English word saelig, meaning one who is happy and blessed.

Early Origins of the Suly family

The surname Suly 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 Suly family

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

Suly 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 Silley, Silly, Cele, Sully, Silliman and others.

Early Notables of the Suly 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 Suly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Suly 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 Suly or a variant listed above: Edward Silley settled in Virginia in 1635; Sarah Silley settled in Maryland in 1737; Hugh and John Silly settled in Barbados in 1660; Thomas Silly landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1877.



  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


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