Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

Lily Emma Sellen is the name of my paternal grandmother. It was when I began to find tracing her family taking up so much time, that I realised I had more information than was necessary for my own tree. In fact, once I had put it all together I found that I had one big tree and several smaller ones. The Sellen name was registered as a One Name Study in the summer of 2008.

Variant names

It is the Sellen name that I have registered but it originally started out as Sellenge, Sellinge, Sellynge or Selling. I have several families where the two names of Selling and Sellen interchange and several individuals registered with one name at birth and the other name at marriage and/or death. I have registered Selling as a variant. As I have progressed with my study I now find that I need to include Sellin as a variant.

Name origin

Sellen is Anglo Saxon in origin. Selling in Kent was recorded as Setlinges in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and as Selling in the 1206 Feet of Fines. Sellinge in Kent was recorded as Sedlings in the Doomsday Book and Sellinges in the 1226 Assize Court Rolls. Both place names come from the Olde English pre 7th Century '€˜Sett(e)l'€™, meaning abode, residence, with '€˜ing'€™ people of; therefore '€˜place of the settlers'€™. During the Middle Ages when people started to migrate to look for work, they often took their former village name for the purpose of identification. This resulted in a wide dispersal of names. In modern times the surname can be found as Selling, Sellings, Sellin, Sellan, Sellen and Sellens.

Historical occurrences of the name

There is a possibility that a Sellen family came from La Rochelle in France. The siege of La Rochelle was broken by Cardinal Richelieu in 1627 and many Huguenot families fled France at this time. The IGI has several submitted entries for a family originating from there and going to Germany and then on to the United States. Jacob Sellen married twice and the first family were Sellen and the second Sell. There are no firm records for this and until I can research this further it is supposition.

Name frequency

According to the ONS Database as of September 2002 there were 458 SELLENs ranking 12,155 and 109 SELLINGs ranking 31,400.

Distribution of the name

Many of the families were agricultural labourers, and as they migrated for work, they can be found in the Medway towns as fishermen, watermen or brickfield workers. In London they are shoe makers and there are some in Manchester in the paper industry. There are many Sellings/Sellens names that seem to originate in Sussex and don'€™t (as yet) seem to be linked with the Kent families.

Emigration saw whole families going to Canada, America and Australia.


I collect data from as many sources as possible, this includes:

  • GRO entries for Births, Marriages and Deaths from 1837 onwards
  • UK Census Records 1841 to 1901
  • Medway Cityark Archives
  • Parish Records
  • IGI
  • Memorials, Inscriptions and Commonwealth War Graves Commission


A DNA project for the Sellen name and its variants. If you would like to be included in this study or would like further details, please contact me at the address below.