Show ContentsVarley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

When the ancestors of the Varley family emigrated to England following the Norman Conquest in 1066 they brought their family name with them. They lived in Verly, or Verlai, Normandy

The Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists Robert de Verlie, Normandy 1180-95 and Robert de Verli held land in Norfolk in 1086. Hugh and William de Verli held lands in Essex and York and later, Torald de Verli gave lands to Salop Abbey, c. 1100. [1]

"One of these two Roberts was probably the founder of Swine Priory in Yorkshire. 'This Priory (according to Tanner) was founded before the reign of Stephen by Robert de Verb, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the reign of Henry I. there was a Hugo de Verli who gave to John Lascels half a carucate at Swine; and in 1184 one of the same name gave 40s. to the King that he might be quit of his oath in a plea of land against William de Ottringham. Robert de Verli, 5 Hen. III., grants to Henry de Pocklington and Margaret his wife the homage of John de Wilton. Another Henry de Verli is mentioned in a subsequent page of the Chartulary. From these several circumstances it may be inferred that the De Verlis were residents in Holderness." [2]

Early Origins of the Varley family

The surname Varley was first found in Norfolk where they were descended from Hugh and Roger De Verleio, two knights of St. Martin De Aubigny in Manche in the arrondisement of Coutances in Normandy. R. de Verli was granted lands in 1066 in Norfolk and was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. [3]

Another Roger de Virlie or Verly, was Baillif of Norwich. Norfolk in 1335. "This Roger was bailiff several times. He is entered Verley in 1343, and Verli in 1344. " [4]

Alternatively, the name could have been a local surname having derived from Verley (Virley), a parish, in the union of Lexden and Winstree, hundred of Winstree in Essex. [4] [5] [6]

A very small parish, having only 68 people by the late 1800's, this origin is questioned by Reaney, "The surname cannot derive, as has been suggested, from Virley (Essex) which is not so called before the 16th century. It was originally Salcota, later Salcote Verly, from its Domesday lord Robert de Verli, who came from Verley (Aisne.) " [7]

Reaney does note that Hugo de Verli was listed in the Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1219 and Thomas Virley was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1275 in Suffolk. He supposes that the name may have been a southern form of Farleigh and is the only author to do so. [7]

We agree with Reaney's phonetic match of Varley and Farleigh. However, in our humble opinion, we feel that as the lion's share of researchers point to Virley, Essex and Norfolk as points of origin for the family, we question Reaney's opinion. Moreover, Reaney, himself noted Salcote Verly as a former name for Virley, Essex.

Early History of the Varley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Varley research. Another 257 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1243, 1275, 1319, 1322, 1324, 1596, 1725, 1748, 1795 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Varley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Varley Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Varley have been found, including Varley, Verley and others.

Early Notables of the Varley family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Charles Varley or Varlo (1725?-1795?), an English agriculturist, born in Yorkshire...

Varley Ranking

In the United States, the name Varley is the 11,932nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Varley family to Ireland

Some of the Varley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 130 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Varley migration to the United States +

For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Varley were among those contributors:

Varley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Varley, who arrived in Maryland in 1673 [9]
  • Chr Varley, who landed in Virginia in 1698 [9]
Varley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Margaretta Varley, who settled in New York State in 1775 with her two children
Varley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Bernard Varley, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [9]
  • Joseph Varley, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856 [9]
  • John Varley, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1860
  • William Varley, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1874
  • John B Varley, who arrived in Mississippi in 1889 [9]

Canada Varley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Varley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Caries Varley, who arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Varley migration to Australia +

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

Varley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Varley, English convict who was convicted in York, Yorkshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 8th July 1840, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • James Varley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Princess Royal" in 1848 [11]
  • Thomas Varley, aged 40, a bricklayer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Telegraph"

Contemporary Notables of the name Varley (post 1700) +

  • Herbert Paul Varley (b. 1931), American academic, historian, author, and Japanologist
  • John Herbert Varley (b. 1947), American science fiction author
  • Val Varley, American Republican politician, Candidate for Texas State Senate 28th District, 1994 [12]
  • Paul Varley (1949-2008), English musician best known as the drummer in the band Arrows
  • John Silvester Varley (b. 1956), English banker, and former Group Chief Executive of Barclays Bank
  • John Varley (1740-1809), English canal engineer from Heanor, Derbyshire
  • Tom Varley, English collector of steam-powered vehicles known as the Tom Varley Collection based in Lancashire
  • Cornelius Varley FRSA (1781-1873), English water-colour painter and inventor who gained a medal for his invention of the graphic telescope
  • Cromwell Fleetwood "C.F." Varley FRSA (1828-1883), English engineer, known for his work in the development of the electric telegraph and the transatlantic telegraph cable
  • John Varley (1778-1842), English watercolor painter, a close friend of William Blake
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Alice Mercy Varley, American 2nd Class passenger from East Northfield, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and died in the sinking [13]

The Varley 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: Magna est Veritas
Motto Translation: Great is truth.

  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. 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
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  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. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  6. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  7. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. 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)
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th October 2021). Retrieved from
  11. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCESS ROYAL 1848. Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from
  13. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook