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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Notes: (Utterby, co. Lincoln). Blazon: Argent a fesse between six fleurs-delis sable. Crest—A cubit arm erect vested argent holding in the hand proper a fleur-de-lis sable.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Eley Coat of Arms and Family Crest

This interesting surname, with the variant spellings Eeley, Eely, Heley and Ely, can be either a patronymic or of locational origin. As a patronymic name, it acquires from the old given name "Elis" or the vernacular form of "Elijah".  This name was borne by a biblical prophet and was a popular name among Christians in the Middle Ages, being the name of a 7th Century bishop of Syracuse.  The surname from this source first noted as William Heli in Documents relating to the Danelaw for Nottinghamshire in 1154 A.D. More common variations are: Ealey, Elley, Eyley, Eeley, Eleya, Eiley, Eleye, Yeley, Ehley, Euley.

The surname Eley first found in Cambridgeshire Where they held a family seat from very early times and given lands by Duke William of Normandy, their true Lord, for their special assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD. The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Huna de Ely, dated 1086, in the “ Ancient Charters of Cambridgeshire”. It was during the reign of King William 1st, who was known as "The Conquerer" dated 1066-1087.  Surname all over the country became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation.  It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.  Surnames all over the country began to develop with unique and shocking spelling varieties of the original one.

Some of the people with the name Eleywho arrived in the United States in the 17th century included Robert Eley, who arrived in Virginia in 1639.  John Eley, who landed in Virginia in 1649.  Christopher Eley, who arrived in Virginia in 1651.  William Eley, who came to Maryland in 1668. Some of the people with the name Eley who arrived in the United States in the 18th century included Ulderick Eley, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1729.  Abraham Eley, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765. Some of the individuals with the surname Eley who landed in Australia in the 19th century included Abraham Eley, English convict from Nottingham, who moved aboard the "Adamant" in March 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia.  John Eley, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Indian".  John Eley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Indian" in 1849.

Eley Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Eley blazon are the fesse and fleur-de-lis. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and argent.

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

The fesse (also found as fess) is one of the major ordinaries to found in heraldry, being a bold, broad, horizontal band across the centre of the shield. It may originally have arisen from the planks of which a wooden shield can be constructed, the centremost plank being painted a different colour 6. It is instantly recognisable as a symbol, for example the arms of COLEVILLE granted during the reign of Hery III are simply or, a fesse gules. With this clear association with the construction of the shield itself, Wade believes that the fesse can be taken to be associated with the military, as a “girdle of honour”.

The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. 7. The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul”8 and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms 9

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JR77 commented on 27-Dec-2018
Interesting. Anyone looking for more information may want to read the search for coat of arms that resulted in this article: https://archive.org/stream/elyancestrylinea00beac/elyancestrylinea00beac_djvu.txt I found it to have an excellent history of the origin of Ely. I do not think those searching for facts on the past should rely solely on one article. Thank you for your post and another tool from which I am able to glean more light on the possibilities of my own heritage. (grandfather was Luther Eley/ Ely [1800/01 -1962]son of Sarah Eley/ Ely. There is little record that I can find of him that is definitive because he was married twice and with each marriage he used a differently spelled last name. i.e. one Luther Eley and with the other wife, Luther Ely. I have met the Aunts and Uncles and cousins now, from the first family, but there was overlap. Unfortunately it was at a time when electronic record were not yet existing and so paperwork was easily manipulated and made error upon. I have searched an found many a relative through the genetic testing that allows those with similar DNA to link them to relatives and hope to link that back to my Ely coat of arms.


  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 4 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 5 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 6 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Fesse
  • 7 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 3
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P134
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P489