A quick review of the name indicates the key locations of early history is Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, ENGLAND.
As of the year 2003, the name can be found in Australia, Canada, England and the United States.
Also, the name has had a number of variations in spelling for the same family group. Key spellings are or have been ZELY, ZELYE, ZELLYE. ZELLEY, ZELLY, ZELEY, SEALY, ZEALY, SEALEY, ZEALEY, SELLY, SELLEY and SELLYE.
In Devon, some of the person born with the Zelly or Zelley name in the Silverton area would use the Selly and then the SELLEY variation. In Dorset, some of the members would use the SEALEY variation.A typical example is the case of ELIZA sister of CHARLES FREDERICK ZELLEY.She would marry EDWARD BROWN.In the marriage certificate of 1875, her name would appear as SEALEY.
The various persons that still use the ZELLEY name in AUSTRALIA can be traced to brothers RICHARD or ROBERT from the Halberton, Devon based family.However, at times the name was listed as ZELLY.
The USA members of the greater ZELLEY tree can be connected to the Great Somerford/Dauntsey area of Wiltshire.In this area, during the 1600's there are a number of variations of the name such as ZELLYE and like the Dorset branches, at times the name was recorded as SEALY.
The unanswered question is what connection is there with the Wiltshire-Dorset-Somerset-Devon based families. From IGI records, Ann ZELLEY of Somerset appears to be the earliestwith the ZELLEY spelling. She married THOMAS GILL in 1621 at Axbridge.However, the most common and longest area for the ZELLEY variation is the TIVERTON, Devon to the Somerset border region of the Black Down Hills.
Each person may add their own chapter to the ZELLEY/ZELLY family history.But, it is likely that "ALL ROADS LEAD TO DEVON" as early as the 1500's. One excetion is the case of a THOMAS ZELY that can be found in the 1300's.The connection, if any, is yet to be determined.
Persons interested in this history may contact Brian Zelley.