Cayley Family History

Cayley crest cayley crest 1

The Cayley crest

Low Hall Cayleys

George John Cayley web version

George John Cayley (1826-78)

Frontispiece to

Las Alforjas, or the Bridle Paths of Spain

Arthur Cayley, the third son of Sir William Cayley (1st baronet), was born in about 1639 and called to the Bar in 1664. In 1662 he married Elizabeth Shipton (d. 1688), daughter of a Yorkshire MP, Thomas Shipton. They lived at the Low Hall, Brompton, Yorkshire. He died in 1707 or 1709. According to his wife's memorial in Brompton Church they had two sons and seven daughters. Among these were:

  • Arthur Cayley, born about 1667, who also lived at the Low Hall, and was a clergyman, being vicar of Allerton, Yorkshire 1701-26, and of Brompton 1726-8. He married three times, and his wives were Tabith Thompson, Mary Wood, widow of Arthur Noel, and Sarah Judson, daughter of Robert Judson - she was probably his third and last wife.

  • Simon Cayley, born in 1671

  • William Cayley


Arthur Cayley had at least four children:

  • William Cayley, born about 1700, who was a naval surgeon serving on the Prince George at the time of his death. With no - or no surviving - children, he left his estate to his mother and his brother Robert. His Will (dated 1746) was proved in 1748, and he probably died in 1746 or 1747.

  • Robert Cayley, born about 1718, who held a living in Chelsea at the time of his brother William's death, and became rector of Belton in Suffolk. He died in 1784. He married Mary Overton (d. 1785).They had a son William who died in 1762 in his first year of life, and four daughters, including Ann Cayley (d. 1787) and Sarah Cayley (d. 1804)

  • John Cayley, who inherited the Low Hall, Brompton, and was a clergyman. He held various livings, including being vicar of Bubwith, East Riding, Yorkshire. His first wife was Rebecca Nowell, a great-granddaughter of Sir William Cayley the 1st baronet. She died in about 1746. Some years later, in about 1773, he married Mary Thompson, who died in 1800.


John Cayley and Rebecca Nowell had at least three children:

  • John Cayley (b. c.1741, d. 1823), who studied at St John's College, Cambridge, was ordained deacon at York in 1763, and priest in 1765, and worked initially as a curate looking after one of his father's Yorkshire parishes. he Rector of Terrington from 1765 to his death, and from 1793 was also priest in charge at Brompton, where he inherited the Low Hall. he married his distant cousin Frances Cayley, a daughter of Sir George Cayley, 4th Baronet. See the separate page on the Low Hall Cayleys for their descendants.

  • Dorothy Rebecca Cayley, who married a clergyman whose surname may have been Prowde

  • Mary Cayley who died unmarried at Brompton in 1826.


The Rev John Cayley (c.1741-1823) of the Low Hall, Brompton, Yorkshire, and his cousin Frances Cayley (c.1738-1814), daughter of Sir George Cayley, 4th baronet, had two children:

  • John Cayley (1776-1846)

  • Frances Philadelphia Cayley (c.1777-1858)


John Cayley married Elizabeth Sarah Stillingfleet in 1798. She came from one of England's great ecclesiastical dynasties which produced generations of senior clergy. According to both private papers held by a descendant and later newspaper reports, they were both deaf and dumb: as late as 1840, newspaper reports of another marriage of a couple who were both deaf and dumb referred to them. They had at least five children:


  • Elizabeth Margaret Frances Cayley (born c.1799)

  • Mary Louisa Cayley (1801-25)

  • Edward Stillingfleet Cayley (1802-62), who studied at Rugby School and Brasenose College, Oxford brfeaking the Cayley tradition of sons going to Cambridge), and was for some years an Independent MP for the North Riding of Yorkshire, frequently advocating free trade in Parliament. In another (though more distant) cousin marriage in 1823 he married Emma Cayley (c.1797-1848), one of the daughters of Sir George Cayley, the aeronautical 6th baronet. Newspapers of the time have reports of his many speeches in the House of Commons.


Edward Stillingfleet Cayley and his wife Emma had three sons:

  • Edward Stillingfleet Cayley (1824-84), a barrister and landowner educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was also an author, writing works on the European revolutions of 1848 and the Franco-German war of 1870. In 1872 he married Ellen Louisa Awdry (1845-1903), 2nd daughter of Ambrose Awdry of Seend, Wiltshire

  • George John Cayley (1826-78), another barrister and also educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (though he never took his degree). He clearly had left-wing tendencies. In 1868 he stood as the Working Man's candidate for Scarborough in the general election. He published a relatively popular fairly light-hearted book about travels in the interior of Spain, another on electoral reform and the working classes, and several pieces of light verse. The frontispiece to his travel book shows him with a magnificent mid-Victorian beard. He had a reputation as an accomplished metal-worker and in 1862 he and the Victorian painter George Frederick Watts designed the challenge shield for a national shooting championship at Wimbledon. He also was an accomplished tennis-player, helped to develop several types of tennis racket, and wrote an article on the game for the Edinburgh Review in 1875. He had homes at Wydale, Yorkshire (near Brompton) and in Westminster. In 1860 he married Mary Anne Frances Wilmot (c.1843-1908), and they had three children:

             - Hugh Cayley (1861-1924), educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, who lived at Wydale and married

              Rosa Louisa Violet Seelig (d. 1915), daughter of Johann Seelig of Hanover)

             - Arthur Cayley (1862-8)

             - Violet Cayley (b.1865), who took part in amateur theatricals at public theatres in Norfolk

            - Charles Digby Cayley (1827-44), educated at Eton, who became a midshipman in the Royal Navy, was  

              awarded a medal for his part in activities in the Levant, and drowned with a companion when a squall hit

              the sailing-boat they were in off Largs, Scotland.