Shelley Surname Genealogy

The name “Shelley” appears to be locational in origin.  The
is said
to have derived from the Old English word scyf or “shelf,” a ledge or
plateau, and “ley”, a field or clearing, and describes someone who
lives at such a place.
The name is thought to have originated in Essex.  There is in
fact a
small hamlet called Shelley near Chipping Ongar in the county.  A
manor of that name has existed
on the edge of Epping Forest since
pre-Domesday times.  But other early sightings of the name can be
elsewhere, in Suffolk and West Yorkshire.
Select Shelley Resources on The Internet

Shelley Ancestry

England.  Shelleys in
Sussex were recorded in Rye in East Sussex in
the early 14th century.  A John Shelley was able in 1474 to
secure the
marriage of Elizabeth Michelgrove and thereby bring the Michelgrove estates near
Arundel under his control.  For three
centuries thereafter, the Shelleys were landed gentry in Sussex, with
branches in West and East Sussex. The branch in East Sussex included
the black
sheep of the family, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

A Shelley name in Kent can
be traced to the 1380’s and the Shottys manor house in Knockholt near
Sevenoaks.  Later on, this family moved to Hall Place in Bexley
where they
lived until early Elizabethan times.  Henry
Shelley from nearby Chislehurst set sail in 1609
in a mission to rescue the
New World colonists at Jamestown.  The party didn’t succeed in
venture.  But Henry Shelley did leave his
name to one of the beautiful beaches in Bermuda.

locations for Shelleys have been:

  • the county of Essex.
    Richard Shelley, born in
    1611, was the forebear to successive generations of Essex
    blacksmiths.  A
    line from there may have gone to Uriah Shelley who married in 1754 in
    village of Rivenhall southeast of Braintree.  Today Rivenhall has
    largest concentration of Shelleys in the county. 
  • and Staffordshire, in the
    area from Stoke to Wolverhampton.  Shelley Potteries, in
    business from the
    1750’s until recently, has been a well-known name in Stoke.

Although Shelley is an English-origin name, there are more than twice
number of Shelleys in America than in England.  An important
factor has
been the anglicization of foreign names by immigrants either on their
into the United States or with the next generation.  German names
such as
“Schille” or “Schelle” became Shelley in America.  So at times did
the Irish

There was a cluster of Shelleys from German Mennonite roots in
Pennsylvania.  Daniel Shelley uprooted his wife and four children
from Lancaster
county to settle in the 1770’s in what is now called Shelley’s Island on the Susquehanna
river.  Here they formed a
self-contained community.  Irish Shelleys have made their way to
California and
Idaho, amidst other places.  Kate
was, briefly, a young heroine in Iowa in 1881 for
authorities about a potential train catastrophe.

And Shelley clusters from English roots can
be found in South Carolina, Alabama, and Utah.

Australia.  There are
many Shelleys in Australia.  The first Shelley to emigrate to
was William Shelley, a
from Hanley in Staffordshire who arrived there in 1800.

Shelley Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Shelley Names

John Shelley established the Shelleys as landed gentry in
Sussex with his marriage to Elizabeth Michelgrove in 1474.
Sir Richard Shelley, a staunch Catholic from the Shelley
Michelgrove branch, was active in several plots against Queen Elizabeth
during the 1560’s.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
, born into
gentry in East Sussex, is one
of the best-known English Romantic poets. His wife Mary
(nee Godwin) wrote Frankenstein.
William Shelley
was a
missionary from Hanley in Staffordshire
who sailed to Australia in 1800. His school for Aboriginal children has
now been described as Shelley’s mistake.
Percy Shelley reinvigorated
Shelley Potteries in Stoke in the
early part of the 20th century.
Jack Shelley of working class
Irish roots was the
mayor of San Francisco during the turbulent 1960’s.

Select Shelleys Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 4,500 in America (most numerous
    in South Carolina).
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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