Riley Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Riley Origin:

England, Ireland

Origins of Riley:

The surname of Riley can hail from either the Irish or the English cultures. There are two possible origins for the surname of Riley. The first possible origin of the surname of Riley is that it was a locational surname, hailing from the country of England. Because the surname of Riley is said to be locational in the country of England, this means that it 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 places from which those who bear the surname of Riley might have hailed include the village of Riley Green which was located near Blackburm, or within Lichfield, in Staffordshire, with the village of Riley Hill. Another possible area where someone who bore the surname of Riley might have hailed from was in Devonshire, where there was rumored to be a town called Riley. It is possible that this surname means either “red farm” or “rye farm,” coming from the Old English Pre 7th Century word of “rygh-leah.” Within the country of Ireland, it is believed that the surname of Riley comes from the surname “O’Raghailligh” which means the son of Raghallach.


More common variations are: Risley, Rilley, Reiley, Rieley, Railey, Rioley, Wriley, Rhiley, Riiley, Riliey


The first recorded spelling of the surname of Riley can be found within the country of England. One person, who was recorded to be named as one John de Ryeley was mentioned in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, which is located in Yorkshire, in the year of 1284. This document was ordered, decreed, and written under the reign of one King Edward I, who was known as both “Longshanks,” and “The Hammer of the Scots.” He was such named for the wars and conquests that he waged on the country of Scotland throughout his reign, which lasted from the year of 1272 to the year of 1307. Other mentions of the surname of Riley throughout the country of England include one Henry de Ryley, who was mentioned in the Subsidy Tax Rolls for Derbyshire in the year of 1327, and Alice Riley, who was baptized at St. Giles Cripplegate, London, in the year 1575. Those who bear the surname of Riley within the country of England can be found in the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire in large concentrations.


Within the country of Scotland, those who bear the surname of Riley can be found in large populations in the area of Midlothian County.


In the country of Ireland, the first recorded spelling of the surname of Riley was one Hugh O’Reilly who served as an Archbishop of Ireland, and lived from the year 1580 to the year 1653. Those who bear the surname of Riley in the country of Ireland can be found in Armagh, Breffney, and County Cavan.

United States of America:

Those who carry the surname of Riley can be found in the states of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Riley: United States 146,745; England 28,049; Australia 11,014; Canada 6,882; South Africa 6,118; Jamaica 3,373; New Zealand 2,076; Scotland 1,542; Wales 926; Trinidad and Tobago 745

Notable People:

John “Jack” Patrick Riley (1920-2016) who was an Ice hockey player and coach from America from the year 1950 to the year 1986 and who went on to coach the United States Ice Hockey team as they earned a Gold Medal in the year 1960 at the Squaw Valley Olympics

Chis Riley who was born in the year 1982 is a soccer player from America

Chris Riley who was born in the year 1973 who is a nationally ranked golfer from America who competes with the Pro Golf Association and is ranked in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings

Steve Riley who was born in the year 1956 who is a drummer from America whose associated acts include L.A. Guns, Roadmaster, and Steppenwolf

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) who was a writer and poet from America who is best know for his best-selling works which include “Little Orphan Annie” and “The Raggedy Man”

Herbert Douglas Riley (1904-1973) who was an American who served as the Vice Admiral to the united States Navy

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (co. Devon, and the Green, co. Lancaster). Or (another, ar.) a fess betw. three crosses formée fitchée sa.
2) (Forest Hill, Windsor; confirmed to William Felix Riley, Esq., of that place, J.P. and D.L., only son of John Reilly, and grandson of Felix Reilly, both of Bulgan, co. Cavan). Vert two lions ramp. or, supporting a dexter hand ppr. dropping blood, on a canton ar. a torteau. Crest—Out of a mural crown an oak tree with a snake entwined descending its trunk all ppr. Motto—Fortitudine et prudentia.
3) (cos. Lancaster and Lincoln). Or, a fess betw. three crosses formée vert. Crest—A dragon’s head erased gu. bezantée.
4) Or, a chev. betw. three crosses pattée fitchée sa. Crest—A dragon’s head erased sa. charged with a plate and two bezants, one and two.
5) (John Riley, Esq., of the Inner Temple, London). O Or, on a chev. betw. two crosses pattée fitchée in chief az. and in base on waves of the sea a ship in full sail ppr. three bees volant of the fleld. Crest—A dragon’s head couped sa. bezantée, and in front thereof an anchor entwined with a cable fesswise or. Motto—Spero infestis metuo secundis.

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