Where did the Irish Haley family come from? What is the Irish coat of arms/family crest? When did the Haley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the history of the family name?
While many of Irish names are quite familiar to most, their original Gaelic forms are often forgotten and mysterious. The original Gaelic form of the name Haley is O hEalaighthe, which is derived from the word ealadhach, which means ingenious. Another Gaelic form of the surname is O hEilidhe, which is derived from the word eilidhe, which means claimant.
In the Middle Ages, the largely illiterate society in Ireland had little control over how their names were to be recorded. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the Haley family name include Haly, Haley, Haily, Hely, Healy, Healey, O'Healey, O'Haly and many more.
First found in county Sligo where they held a family seat from ancient times.
Many Irish families did not fare so well within the English-ruled Ireland. Besides racial and religious discrimination, many families were renting out small tracts of farmland from absentee landowners at often unreasonable rates. Beginning in the late 18th century, moderately well off Irish families decided to emigrate to British North America or the United States in order to own their own plot of land. A radical change occurred in the 1840s, however, with the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Up to this point, the island's population had been increasing rapidly and a steady demand over the years for grain crops had depleted soil. Two failed crops and one poor one caused widespread disease and starvation. Thousands boarded ships looking for opportunities elsewhere. North America welcomed them as a source of cheap labor required for the many industrial and infrastructure projects underway, and as a means to quickly occupy the western regions. Research into immigration and passenger ship lists indicates that people bearing the name Haley were among the earliest settlers to arrive in North America: James Haley settled in Virginia in 1654; along with his wife Anne; James, Jeremiah, Michael, Patrick, Thomas and William Haley all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
Suggested Readings for the name Haley
* Haley, Marshall, Getchell, Barlow, Genealogy by Elaine Vertz Smithers.