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Riley Family History

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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Where is the Riley family from?

You can see how Riley families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Riley family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Riley families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1911 there were 680 Riley families living in Ontario. This was about 47% of all the recorded Riley's in Canada. Ontario had the highest population of Riley families in 1911.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Riley surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Riley ancestors do for a living?

In 1921, Farmer and Housekeeper were the top reported jobs for men and women in the CA named Riley. 30% of Riley men worked as a Farmer and 15% of Riley women worked as a Housekeeper. Some less common occupations for Americans named Riley were Clerk and Student.

View Census data for Riley | 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 1921

  • Farmer
    30%
  • Labourer
    12%
  • Laborer
    7%
  • Clerk
    3%

Top Female Occupations in 1921

  • Housekeeper
    15%
  • Stenographer
    8%
  • Teacher
    7%
  • Student
    7%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Riley family records will you find?

Census Records

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 Canadian census records for Riley

Passenger Lists

There are 99,000 immigration records available for the last name Riley. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in Canada, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Riley immigration records

Draft Cards

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.

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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

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