Some Shelley family history
The story of the origin of the family
Dr Tom Shelley
The family name has two distinct and completely different roots, one derived from Shelley, in Essex, Suffolk, and Yorkshire, England, from Schell, a spring, and ley, a field and the other of ancient Irish origin and said to be an anglicization of the Gaelic "O Sealbhaigh indicating a "descendent of Sealbhaigh," a first name derived from the word "selbhach" meaning "having many possessions, referring to an individual of wealth and influence." Derivatives are Shalvey, O'Shalvey, Shally, Shalloo, Shallow, Sheily, Shelle, Shelly and Shelley. The Shelley family is quite numerous, although according to my late father, our branch of the family is derived from a soldier, probably an Irish mercenary, John Shelley. who came over with William I in 1066. It is said that to begin with, the battle of Hastings went badly for William and the French mercenaries did the sensible thing and ran away. John Shelley, however, had the family streak of stubbornness and stood his ground. Harold then received an arrow in the eye, which may have happened literally or may refer to a mediaeval expression equivalent to our modern "knife in the back." He was not noted for keeping his word, which was what had led to the quarrel at Hastings, and so it is possible that he was killed by somebody on his own side. William, although noted for his vicious temper, especially towards anyone he felt looked down upon him because of his illegitimacy, did keep his promises and remembered his obligations, so John Shelley was made a knight, and granted lands near Knockholt, in West Kent, as a reward for his services on the field. Evidence that we come from this line and not from the Essex Shelleys is that we have long had a family tradition of calling sons either John, Thomas or Walter, and my uncle John Shelley lives only a few miles from where the original Sir John Shelley had his castle. Most Shelleys in the United States, according to passenger lists, originated in Ireland, see http://www.searchforancestors.com/surnames/origin/s/shelley.php .
Sir John Shelley's position must have been a delicate one, because Kent is the only part of England which William did not conquer. The Men of Kent met King William near Swanscombe, concealing their true numbers by carrying boughs of trees, and offered a deal. They would swear loyalty to him on condition that he allow them to retain their ancient rights and privileges, and run things their own way. Kent County Council has the motto "Invicta" or unconquered to this day. Sir John's son, the first Sir Thomas (same name as me) seems to have squandered the family wealth and the family finances took a nosedive. Since then the family has been up and down, never very rich, but never very poor. Middle Class to the core you might say. Typical Shelley professions are to be junior officers in the armed services, farmers, small businessmen, preachers, but never barons and never serfs. The traditional approach to life is to be rebellious, although not to the point of being hung on Tower Hill. Typical appearance of the men is blue eyes and dark curly hair, although intermarriage with the native men and women of Kent, who were Vikings from Jutland in Denmark, brings out blonde hair from time to time. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a typical Shelley, with the hair and the eyes and the stubborn and rebellious disposition. New College, Oxford has a statue of him as they would like to remember him, washed up drowned on the beach of the Bay of Naples.
Do we still have an Irish connection? Shelley may well be an Irish name, but if you talk to Irish people, they will say that, "It is not a name that you often hear in Ireland". According to historical records, there seem to have been plenty of Shelleys and Shellys (the name used to be spelt either with or without the second 'e') in Ireland at one time so what happened to them? I discovered that the name seems to come from around Cork, right in the South and that according to the Irish telephone books, there are still a few Shellys living in and around Kilkenny, also in the South. So what happened to the others? The answer may be found in the records of that part of the country and the history of not one potato famine but a whole series of famines. See http://www.rootsweb.com/~irlkik/famine.htm . Many thousands starved but even more left, mostly for America, halving the original 8 million population, but achieving great things on the other side of the Atlantic. Even today, Ireland feels a little empty, with places that anywhere else in Europe would be sites of great ports and industrial centres, but which today only have a handful of people. However, for those who remained, development and prosperity has now come, and the Ireland now boasts the world's highest per capita income, largely thanks to the support of the European Community of which Ireland is one of the keenest members, plus the enterprise of its people.
Shelley Connection with Penshurst Place, Kent, England
Technically speaking the Sidney line, owners of Penshurst Place, died out with Jocelyn Sidney, 7th Earl of Leicester in 1743. None of the sons of Robert Sidney, 4th Earl of Leicester, produced a male heir so their house was passed through Elizabeth Sidney (1713 - 1781), the daughter of Thomas Sidney and Mary Reeve. She married William Perry and Penshurst passed through their daughter Elizabeth Jane Perry. Elizabeth Perry became the second wife of Sir Bysshe Shelley, grandfather of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. He was descended from one of the grand-daughters of William Sidney and obtained royal permission for his sons to use the Sidney name and crest. It was his son John who began the name change back to Sidney by changing his name to Shelley-Sidney. His son, Philip Sidney, 1st Lord De L'Isle and Dudley (1800 - 1851) then dropped the Shelley part of the name. The incumbents of Penshurst Place are therefore really Shelleys, even though they have decided to call themselves Sidneys. The rest of the Shelley clan, however, remain proud to continue to call themselves Shelleys.
Complete poetical works of Percy Bysshe Shelley
A life long soldier: Dr Shelley's grandfather
An age which has gone: notes on his maternal grandmother and grandfather by Dr. Shelley's father
Bryant Redhouse, Dr Tom Shelley's father's mother's brother and the Charge of the 9th Lancers
Annie Sarah Redhouse, John George Redhouse, Nelly Rachel Redhouse and Harry Redhouse, also children of Dr Shelley's father's maternal grandmother and grandfather
Maud Mary Redhouse, Randolph Redhouse and Archibald Redhouse, also children of Dr. Shelley's father's maternal grandmother and grandfather
My father was named Walter Archibald Shelley,
baptised February 4th 1906 in Pembroke Dock, South Wales, and he
married my mother, Winifred May Ward in Folkestone, Kent in
His father, Walter Shelley, Sergeant, born on February 7th 1879 in St Mary Extra, Southampton, then stationed at Bordon Camp, Headley, Hampshire, married Nellie Rachael Redhouse on November 1st 1904 in Bramshott Parish Church, Hampshire
His father, Simeon Shelley, Iron and Brass moulder, born in Salisbury on December 19th 1848, married Ellen Leaver, dress maker, on June 2nd 1873 in the United Methodist Church, Salisbury, Wiltshire
His father, Enoch Shelley, aged 25, Iron Founder, married Sarah Davis in the Independent Chapel, Endless Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire in October 1848. Enoch Shelley's residence at time of marriage was Green Croft Street, St. Edmund, Salisbury.
His father, Iron Founder, was named James Shelley.
My grandfather's (the soldier) brother was named Thomas Shelley and his son was named Walter Shelley. My father's youngest brother lives in West Kent near where the family originally was supposed to have started and was named John. The middle brother was Bryant Thomas Shelley.
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