Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Kelly Name
Origins of Name:
The surname of Kelly has possible derivations in the countries of both Ireland and England. Firstly, the surname is a possible Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic surname of “O’Ceallaigh.” The patronymic surname has two elements. Firstly, the “O” prefix, which denoted the patronymic part of the surname, “O” can be translated to mean “son of.” The second component of the surname of “O’Ceallaigh” is the personal given name of “Ceallach,” which can be translated to mean “contention,” or “strife.” The popularity and notoriety of this surname in the country of Ireland stems from the Ui Maine reigning chieftain who bore the surname of O’Ceallaigh and was a supporter of the arts. This chieftain’s surname is officially recognized as the Anglicized “O’Kelly” in many parts of Ireland. The other possible derivation of the surname of Kelly is of a locational surname. This means that the surname of Kelly was often taken by the Lord or owner of the land from which the name derives. Others who may have take a locational surname are people who have migrated out of the area to seek out work. The easiest way to identify someone who was a stranger at that time was by the name of their birthplace. The location from which this surname may derive is in England. Within County Devonshire, there is a town of “Kelli” which was named in the 1194 Pipe Rolls of Devonshire County. Those who came from the town of Kelli may have adopted the surname as they migrated from the place of their birth. This surname may also be a locational surname from the country of Scotland. Within the country of Scotland, there is a toen called Kelly in the county of Angus. This town name stems from the Gaelic element of “coille,” which can be translated to mean “wood” or “grove.”
More common variations are: Kelley, Keilly, Keally, Kielly, Keely, Keelly, Kellay, Kelliy, Kelloy, Kellwy, Kellya, Kellie
The first recorded spelling of the surname of Kelly comes in the country of England. One person by the name of Warin de Kelly was noted and mentioned in the document called the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in the year of 1194. This document, the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire, were ordered, decreed, and written under the reign of one King Richard I of England,who was known throughout the history of the ages as one “Richard the Lionheart” or “The Lionheart.” King Richard I of England ruled from the year 1189 to the year 1199. Other mentions of the surname of Kelly in England include the birth of Henry Kelly, who was the son of William Kelly and Jane Trecarrell, was recorded in the city of Kelly, Devonshire in the year of 1521. Those who bear the surname of Kelly within the country of England can be found in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and on the Isle of Man.
The first recorded spelling of the surname of Kelly within the country of Scotland was in the year of 1373. One person by the name of John de Kelly was notated and mentioned in the Scottish Acts of Parliament as holding the position of the abbot of Arbroath. Those who carry the surname of Kelly within the country of Scotland can be found in large concentrations in the county of Lanarkshire.
Here is the population distribution of the last name Kelly: United States 293,880; England 59,024; Brazil 47,603; Australia 42,769; Ireland 42,550; Canada 32,654; Nigeria 15,895; South Africa 13,826; Scotland 9,641; Northern Ireland 9,419
Ellison Lamar Kelly (1935-2016) who was a CFL football offensive lineman from America, who was also inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the year of 1992
Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2016) who was a painter, printmaker, and sculptor from America
Richard Francis “Dick” Kelly Jr. (1936-2015) who was a politician from America, was also a businessman, and served as a Member of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate
Mr. James Robert Kelly (died in 1915) who was a Second Class passenger from New York, New York, who was aboard the RMS Lusitania at the time of the sinking, and did not survive the sinking of the vessel
Miss Margaret S. Kelly (died in 1915) who was a Second Class passenger from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was aboard the RMS Lusitania at the time of the sinking, and did not survive the sinking of the vessel, and her body was recovered in the wreckage of the vessel
Julianne Frances Kelly (1968-1988) who was a student from Dedham, Massachusetts who was aboard the Pan Am Flight 103, from Frankfurt to Detroit, at the time of the crash, which today is known as the Lockerbie Bombing of 1988, and did not survive the crash of the plane
Kelly Family Gift Ideas
Browse Kelly family gift ideas and products below. If there are multiple coats of arms for this surname, you will see them at the top of this page and can click on the various coat of arms designs to apply them to the gift ideas below.
Clothing & Accessories
Kitchen & Bath
Fun & Games
Kelly Family Crest Corn Hole Game$224.00Purchase »
Kelly Family Crest Ping Pong Table$167.59Purchase »
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Blazons & Genealogy Notes
1) (Kelly, co. Devon; settled in that co. from a remote period; derived from Kelly, of Kelly, temp. Richard I.). Ar. a chev. betw. three billets gu. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet gu. an ostrich's head ar. holding in the beak a horseshoe or.
2) (Castle Kelly, co. Galway). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Az. two lions ramp. combatant ar. chained or, supporting a tower triple, turretted of the second. Crest—An enfield vert.
3) (Newtown, co. Galway). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Gu. two lions ramp. combatant supporting a tower triple-towered ar. Crest—An enfield pass. vert.
4) (confirmed to Robert Hume Kelly, Esq., of Glencara, co. Westmeath). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Az. two lions ramp. combatantar. chained or, supporting a tower of three turrets of the second, in the centre chief point a mullet of the third. Crest—An enfield vert charged on the shoulder with a mullet, as in the arms.
5) (Sir Fitzroy Kelly, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Az. two lions ramp. or, supporting a castle ppr. Crest—On a chapeau gu. turned up erm. an enfield vert.
6) (Scotland). Or, a saltire, sa betw. four fleurs-de-lis az.
7) (William Henry Kelly, Esq., of Porchester Terrace, Paddington, co. Middlesex). Motto—Justum perficito nihil timeto. Or, a lion ramp. az. betw. two flaunches of the last, each charged with a castle of the first. Crest—In front of two anchors in saltire sa. a castle or.
8) Or, on two bars sa. betw. three billets gu. two and one, five martlets, three and two (another, mullets) of the first. Crest—A boar pass. or, wounded by an arrow ppr.
9) (a Sept of the race of Colla Da Chrioch, Chiefs of Hy Maine, in the cos. of Galway and Roscommon, deriving their surname from Ceallaigh, Chief of Hy Maine, A.D. 874). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. (Clonlyon, co. Galway; descended from O’Kelly, of Screen; allowed by Hawkins, Ulster, 1755, to Captain Dennis O’Kelly, of Clonlyon; from the Clonlyon line descend the Counts O'Kelly, of Montauban, in France). (Aughrim, co. Galway; James O'Kelly, Esq., of Aughrim, descended from Feigh O'Kelly, Chief of his Sept at the invasion of 1172, was killed at the battle of Aughrim, 1691, leaving a son, Counsellor John O’Kelly, of Keenagh, co. Roscommon; allowed by Fortescue, Ulster, 1803). (Gallagh, co. Galway; Count O'Kelly, of the Holy Roman Empire; allowed by Hawkins, Ulster, 1782, as the arms of Connor O'Kelly, Count O'Kelly, great-grandson of Denis O'Kelly, Esq., of Gallagh). (Tycooly, co. Galway; allowed by Hawkins, Ulster, 1767, to Dillon John O'Kelly, Captain in the service of the Empress Maria Theresa, son of Festus O’Kelly, Esq., of Tycooly, who was grandson of Col. Thaddeus O’Kelly, of Gallagh, in same co.). (allowed by Hawkins, Ulster, 1757, to Major-General William O’Kelly, descended from co. Galway). (Killahan and Gort, co. Roscommon; Reg. Ulster's Office as the arms of Matthew O’Kelly, of those places, temp. Charles II.). Az. a tower triple-towered supported by two lions ramp. ar. os many chains descending from the battlements betw. the lions’ logs or. Crest—On a ducal coronet or, an enfield vert. N.B.—This animal is supposed to be composed as follows: the head of a fox, the chest of an elephant, the mane of a horse, the forelegs of an eagle, the body and hind lege of a greyhound, and the tail of a lion.
10) (Aughrane, Castle Kelly, and Screen, co. Roscommon; descended from Manus O'Kely, second son of Bryan O’Kelly, Tanist of Hy Maine). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Same Arms. Crest—An enfield statant vert.
11) (Barretstown, co. Kildare). Motto—Turris fortis mihi Deus. Gu. on a mount or rock ppr., a tower supported by two lions ramp. ar., the lions ducally crowned or. Crest—An enfield.
12) Or, on two bars sa. betw. three billets gu. two and one, five martlets, three and two (another, mullets) of the first. Crest—A boar pass. or, wounded by an arrow ppr.
13) Or, on two bars sa. betw. three billets gu. two and one, five martlets, three and two (another, mullets) of the first. Crest—A boar pass. or, wounded by an arrow ppr.