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Origins of the Kelly surname

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What does the name Kelly mean?

Kelly is a surname with a number of origins, but most commonly it is Irish (where it is still one of the most prevalent names). Kelly derives as a patronymic name, as an anglicisation of the Gaelic 'O Ceallaigh' (descendant of Ceallach). More rarely the Kelly surname can be geographical in origin, and be derived as a description of someone who comes from one of the multiple places in Britain named 'Kelly' or 'Kellie' in places as diverse as Devon, Forfarshire and Fife.

Alternative variations of the name Kelly

Kelly, Kelley, Kellie, Kely, O'Kelly

I’ve managed to trace back to the mid-1500s! I can’t believe it! Utterly engrossing and I have uncovered some quite moving and heartbreaking stories attached to various ancestors. You don’t need any qualifications to start - just time patience, and some information.

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Where do most Kellys live?

In 1921, most Kellys lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Kellys

How common is your surname?

86th most common surname in the UK

We have 287,000 records for the Kelly surname. The oldest one dates back to .

Who were Kellys most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Kellys.

What are the most common Kelly first names?

  • John
  • James
  • Mary
  • Margaret

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Kelly family members

Common jobs for Kellys

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Kellys in 1921


Domestic Servant








Common Male occupations for Kellys in 1921
General Labourer


Coal Miner




Dock Labourer


Able Seaman


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We found over 420,000 family trees with the Kelly surname

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