Riley Family History

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Riley Name Meaning

Irish: variant spelling of Reilly. English: habitational name from Ryley in Lancashire, so named from Old English ryge ‘rye’ + leah ‘wood’, ‘clearing’. There is a Riley with the same meaning in Devon, but it does not seem to have contributed to the surname, which is more common in northern England.

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

Similar surnames: Ridley, Ripley, Risley, Iley, Wiley, Ryley, Brimley, Rilea, Reiley

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Riley Ethnicity Estimate

What are the common regions with the Riley name?

These results combine data from everyone in the AncestryDNA® database with the last name Riley. The Ancestry® ethnicity regions shown are top five most common on average for these people.

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  • England & Wales


  • Ireland & Scotland


  • Germanic Europe


  • Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples


  • Benin/Togo


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Riley Family Origin

Where is the Riley family from?

Riley Family Occupations

What did your Riley ancestors do for a living?

In 1880, a less common occupation for the Riley family was Farming. Farmer, Laborer and Keeping House were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Riley. The most common Riley occupation in the USA was Farmer. 27% of Riley's were Farmers.

View Census data for Riley | Data not to scale

  • Farmer

  • Laborer

  • Keeping House

  • Farming


Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your Riley ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

Riley Historical Records

What Riley family records will you find?

Census Record

There are 1 million census records available for the last name Riley. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Riley census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search 1940's US census records for Riley

Passenger List

There are 99,000 immigration records available for the last name Riley. 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.

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Draft Card

There are 167,000 military records available for the last name Riley. For the veterans among your Riley ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Riley military records

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

Riley Life Expectancy

What is the average Riley lifespan?

Between 1940 and 2004, in the United States, Riley life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1941, and highest in 1998. The average life expectancy for Riley in 1940 was 32, and 73 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Riley

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Riley ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.

Famous Riley Family Ancestors

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