This very interesting surname is recorded in an amazing variet of spellings. The name can be either of Irish or Norman-French and then Irish, origins. Taking the Irish first, the name in the Gaelic is given as O' Gealbhain, composed of the elements 'geal' meaning bright, and (possibly) 'ban' meaning white. However there is a strong possibility that the name could originally have been a Norman-French introduction at the time of the Invasion of Ireland in 1170, by the Earl of Pembroke, known as 'Strongbow', and then Gaelicised. The reason is that the surname is recorded in France in the spellings of Galvaing, Galvin, Galvier, and Galvagnon, from the earliest times. This was a nickname for a person with a receding hair line, or possibly a priest. The early English and Irish surname recordings and developments taken from authentic church registers include Peter Gaulvin who married Ann Lee at St Margarets church, Westminster in 1635, Mary Gulvin, who married John David on March 5th 1648, at Cranbrook, Kent, Edward Galvan, who was a witness at St. Margarets Lothbury, London, on June 9th 1737, Thomas Galvin of Dingle, County Kerry, in 1797, and Sarah Gaulven, christened at St. Sepulchre, London, on 27th October 1826. Other recordings in the 'wild' variants include Jeremiah Gallivan of Killarney on July 21st 1851, Jane Colvin of Dunkeeley, on July 4th 1861, and Bridget Cullivan at Ballyhaise, County Cavan, on August 6th 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Fergal O' Gealbhain, which was dated 1317, the battle of Corcomroe Abbey, Ireland, during the reign of King Edward 11nd, known as 'Edward of Carnafon', 1307 -1327. 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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