16    Apr 20135 comments

Surname of the Week: KELLY

This week marks the anniversary of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier’s wedding on April 18, 1956. In honor of the couple, we'ill look at the surname KELLY and discover its origins.

KELLY is of Irish origin, and is the second most common name in Ireland, and the 69th most popular name in the United States. There are various origins.

It is an Anglicized form of the patronymic Gaelic name O’Ceallaigh, meaning "descendant of Ceallach," from the Gaelic prefix “O” meaning "descendant of" and the ancient Irish personal name, Ceallach .

Originally a byname meaning ‘"right-headed," it was later understood as "frequenting churches" from the Irish ceall. Several early Irish saints bore the name.

It may also be of English origin, from a place in Devonshire recorded as “Kelli” in the 1194 Pipe Rolls. It may also be of Scottish origin, from the lands of Kelly near Arbroath, Angus.

Along with the different Irish, English or Scottish origins, there are also variant spellings that include KELLEY, KELLIE, O’KELLY, O’KELLEY and KELLI.

At MyHeritage, there are 224,711 people with the KELLY surname, and 6,988,632 records.

Of MyHeritage members named KELLY, 41% are from the US, 24% from Great Britain, 20% from Ireland, 7% from Canada and 3% from Australia. The most common given names are John, Thomas, Mary and Catherine.

Are you a KELLY or a descendant of a KELLY, or a variant spelling? Search your roots and see where your family comes from.

Want to know the origins of your surname? Share with us in the comments below, or on FacebookTwitter or Google+ so we can help with your family history research.

As always, let us know what you discover about your ancestors and heritage. Share stories with us at stories@myheritage.com.

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Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I want to research a name Hetherston i dont know where to start Margaret Delaney
  2. it is my last name
  3. I want to research a name Zimroz.
  4. Yes, we are 21 steps. We both share the same GGGGGGGGG Grandfather!
  5. My niece is a descendant of the Kelly family who lived in Chicago during the 20th century. Her earliest known Kelly ancestor is John Kelly whose wife was Margaret Murray Kelly. It will be a pleasure to communicate with members of my niece's ancestral Kelly family regarding the genealogy of the family.

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