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Kelly Family History

Kelly Name Meaning

Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh ‘descendant of Ceallach’, an ancient Irish personal name, originally a byname meaning ‘bright-headed’, later understood as ‘frequenting churches’ (Irish ceall). There are several early Irish saints who bore this name. Kelly is now the most common of all Irish family names in Ireland.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Similar surnames: Kielty, Keady, Delay, Pelly, Reilly, Keary, Kell, Lello, Kelley

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Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Kelly family from?

You can see how Kelly families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Kelly family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Kelly families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 519 Kelly families living in New York. This was about 19% of all the recorded Kelly's in the USA. New York had the highest population of Kelly families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Kelly surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Kelly ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Stenographer were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Kelly. 13% of Kelly men worked as a Laborer and 6% of Kelly women worked as a Stenographer. Some less common occupations for Americans named Kelly were Clerk and Housekeeper.

View Census data for Kelly | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Laborer
    13%
  • Farmer
    9%
  • Salesman
    5%
  • Clerk
    4%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Stenographer
    6%
  • Teacher
    6%
  • Clerk
    6%
  • Housekeeper
    5%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Kelly family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 2 million census records available for the last name Kelly. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Kelly census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Kelly

Passenger Lists

There are 419,000 immigration records available for the last name Kelly. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Kelly immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 370,000 military records available for the last name Kelly. For the veterans among your Kelly ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Kelly military records

You've only scratched the surface of Kelly family history.

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What is the average Kelly lifespan?

Between 1940 and 2004, in the United States, Kelly life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1941, and highest in 2000. The average life expectancy for Kelly in 1940 was 57, and 74 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Kelly

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