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Our 2,965 members have registered
2,525 study surnames with us
and a further 6,396 variant names.
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About the study

The Cayley one-name study developed from research undertaken by my late aunt, Frances Yates (maiden name Cayley), mainly in the 1960's. In the late 1980's I started adding extensively to the information she had obtained. I now have data on over 6000 members of 'my' Cayley family and related families, and on several thousand other individuals who belong to or are related to other families with the Cayley surname.

Variant names

In medieval times there were a number of variants of the surname. The main ones were Cailly, de Cailly, de Cailli, de Kailli and de Kailly.

Name origin

The surname of Cayleys descended from the Cayley baronets of Yorkshire originates from the village of Cailly near Rouen in France. Members of the family came from there during the Norman Conquest. Other Cayley (and Caley) families can be traced back several centuries to Sussex and East Anglia, and may be linked to the main Yorkshire family, whose ancestors owned lands in Sussex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk in medieval times. Some other families appear to have changed their surname from Kelly or Cawley to Cayley when they moved from Ireland to England or North America in the 19th century.

History of the name

Among the more notable Cayleys are: * William Cayley (about 1700 to 1768), British consul in Spain and Portugal from the mid-1720's to the mid 1740's: there is an extensive collection of his official correspondence in the British Library * Cornelius Cayley (about 1727 to after 1779), a preacher and religious writer * Sir George Cayley (1773-1857), inventor and pioneer of aeronautics * Arthur Cayley (1821-1895), mathematician, who paved the way for a number of branches of modern mathematics * Charles Bagot Cayley (1823-1883), linguist and translator of Dante and Homer, and long-time close friend of the poetess Christina Rossetti * Deputy Surgeon-General Henry Cayley (1834-1904), who served in India and became honorary surgeon to Edward VII * Major-General Douglas Edward Cayley (1870-1951), who played a leading role in the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War * Neville William Cayley (1886-1950), Australian bird painter

Distribution of the name

It still remains the case that most Cayleys are found in England. Other countries where people with the surname may be found include Australia, Canada and the USA.


I hold data on well over 8,000 people from the Cayley family and families into which Cayleys intermarried. This includes: * a virtually complete set of information from the birth, marriage and death registers for England, Wales and Scotland * extensive information from official records dating back to the medieval period * a wide range of data from other sources, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including pedigrees kindly supplied by others with Cayley connections