Recorded as Carley, Corley, Kerley, Turley, Terry and McTerrelly, this is probably an Irish surname but may possibly in some cases be English and locational from a now "lost" medieval village called "Carr-legh" or similar meaning the farm on the rock. If Irish it has been found in its various forms in the counties of Galway, Roscommon and Limerick since at least Elizabethan times. It is usually a developed form of the Gaelic "Mac Thoirdealbhoigh", meaning "The son of Thor" from the personal name Toridhealbhach, having as its first element the Viking name "Thor" the god of Thunder and the second element of "dealbhach", meaning "in the shape of". In the Census of Ireland in 1659 as both MacTerlagh and MacTurlough it appears among the principal Irish names in County Limerick. The places Ballymacurley and Curleys Islands are both found in Roscommon, thus emphasising the connection of the name with that area. The name is also recorded in London church registers with that on October 21st 1621 of Sara Curley who was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, whilst Rebecca Carley married George B urch at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on August 1st 1633. At St. Peters, Drogheda, Louth, Gerald Curley married Mary White on February 5th 1748. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Syslay Kerley which was dated February 18th 1569, who was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, 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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