Tillett History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Tillett is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest brought to England in 1066. The Tillett family lived in Dorset. Their name, however, is a reference to Tilley, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. While many of the family went to England, some remained in Normandy. One of the oldest records of the name found there was Haymon de Tellia listed in Normandy in 960. "Robert de Tilly, and the Castle and Barony of Tilly, Normandy" [1] was listed in a roll dated 1180-95.

"This family, one of the most illustrious in Normandy took their name from the castle and barony of Tilly, near Caen, of which they were Castellans. Henry de Tilly held the castle in 1165, Ralph de Tilly held lands in Devon [2]; and his descendants continued there till the time of Richard Coeur de Lion, when they were seated at Woonford (Wonford, Devon)." [3]

Early Origins of the Tillett family

The surname Tillett was first found in Dorset where they held a family seat at Mersewood, where Henry Tilley from Tilley near Caen in Calvados acquired the confiscated estates of Geoffrey de Mandevill in 1083. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists Ralph de Tilly as holding lands in Devon in 1083. [2]

"In the beginning of the same reign Henry de Tilly, of West-Harptree-Tilly, in Somersetshire, paid £14 15s. as scutage for the King's ransom. His descendants had several other possessions in the county: the last of them mentioned by Collinson is Lionel Tilly, Lord of Salthay, 13 Henry VI. In the time of Stephen the greater part of the confiscated barony of Geoffrey de Mandeville had been granted to De Tilly. Mersewood in Dorset was its caput baroniae. But, after a suit pursued by three successive generations, Robert de Mandeville recovered it from Henry de Tilly in the beginning of King John's reign." [3]

"In South Yorkshire we find 'the family bearing the hereditary name of Tilly enjoying great interests in the dark days before the reign of Henry III.'" Hunter.

"Otho de Tilly was the Seneschal or Steward of Coningsburgh Castle under Hameline Earl Warren during the reigns of Stephen and Henry II.; and erected a cross on the market place at Doncaster, of which the remains (now removed to Hobcross Hill, a little south of the town), are still preserved." [3]

"The manor of West-Draynes [in Cornwall] formerly belonged to the family of Carew. It afterwards passed to that of Tillie, and it is now the property of J. Tillie Coryton, Esq." [4]

Early History of the Tillett family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tillett research. Another 136 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1316, 1322, 1314, 1324, 1325, 1322, 1494, 1457, 1458, 1571 and 1620 are included under the topic Early Tillett History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tillett Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Tillett are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Tillett include Tilley, Tiley and others.

Early Notables of the Tillett family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Celling, or perhaps more accurately Tilly of Selling (d. 1494), who derived his name, according to Leland, from the village of Celling, or Selling, some two miles distant from Faversham in Kent: Hasted, however, assigns him to a family settled at Selling near Hythe. He appears to have been a monk of Christ Church...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Tillett Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tillett Ranking

In the United States, the name Tillett is the 8,985th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Tillett family to Ireland

Some of the Tillett 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.


United States Tillett migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Tillett, or a variant listed above:

Tillett Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Margarett Tillett, who landed in Virginia in 1652 [6]
  • Tho Tillett, who arrived in Virginia in 1657 [6]
  • John Tillett, who landed in Virginia in 1662 [6]
  • Thomas Tillett, who landed in Maryland in 1674 [6]
Tillett Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Tillett, who arrived in Virginia in 1701 [6]

Australia Tillett migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Tillett Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Sarah Tillett, English convict who was convicted in Colchester, Essex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canada" in March 1810, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she is listed as returned to England c. 1817 [7]
  • Mr. James Tillett, English convict who was convicted in Norwich, Norfolk, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Enchantress"on 6th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Mr. George Tillett, English convict who was convicted in Southampton, Hampshire, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "Canton" on 20th September 1839, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • William Tillett, aged 29, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Sumner"

Contemporary Notables of the name Tillett (post 1700) +

  • Wilbur Fisk Tillett (1854-1936), American clergyman and educator
  • Robert Tillett, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1964 [10]
  • Gladys Avery Tillett (1892-1984), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Carolina, 1932, 1940, 1956 (alternate); Assistant Chair, 1944; Speaker, 1944; Vice-Chair, 1948 [10]
  • Durant Howard Tillett (b. 1883), American Democratic Party politician, Member of North Carolina State House of Representatives from Camden County, 1907, 1913-14 [10]
  • Charles Walter Tillett Jr. (1888-1952), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Carolina, 1944 [10]
  • Bernice K. Tillett, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Nebraska, 1932 [10]
  • Benjamin Tillett (1860-1943), English trade union leader
  • Daniel Tillett, Australian biologist
  • Graham Tillett Allison Jr. (b. 1940), American political scientist and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canada
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th April 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/enchantress
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canton
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 1) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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