This interesting and unusual surname is of Irish origin, and is an Anglicization of the Gaelic "O Beaglaoich", meaning "descendant of Beaglaoch", a person name composed of the elements "beag", small, and "laoch", hero. This is the name of Co. Donegal sept located in the barony of Kilmacrenan, where its present day representatives are still to be found. The placename Tulloghobegley, a parish in the barony of Kilmacrenan, perpetuates their association with that area. The name Begley is now almost as numerous in Munster as in Ulster, and one of its principal modern locations is Co. Kerry. The O'Begleys of Munster are a branch of the Co. Donegal sept; the first of them went to Co. Cork with the MacSweeneys as gallowglasses at the end of the 15th Century. Interesting namebearers include: Conor Begley, who collaborated in the production of Hugh Mac Curtin's English-Irish Dictionary, which was printed in Paris in 1732; and Henry Begley (d. 1895), of Co. Limerick, who was a landscape painter of note. The christening was recorded of Edmond, son of Maurice Begley and Nora Donoghue, on May 12th 1797, at Killarney, Co. Kerry. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Beggaley, which was dated November 19th 1561, christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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