The Irish and Scottish surname Cawley has two distinct origins. The name is an anglicized form of the Gaelic name Mac Amhalghaidh meaning “son of Amhalghadh.” Families if this origin are found in county Westmeath in Ireland and Dumbartonshire in Scotland. The name may also be an anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Amhlaoibh or Mac Amhlaidh meaning “son of Olaf,” from Gaelic forms of the Old Norse personal name Áleifr, Óláfr. Families of this origin are found in county Fermanagh in Ireland and the Hebridies islands in Scotland. Examples of recordings taken from church registers include the marriage in Scotland of Peter McCauley and Elizabeth Arnot, on September 2nd 1811, at Edinburgh, whilst in Ireland William McAuley married Jane McKeown on June 8th 1822 at Kircubbin, County Down.
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