This notable surname recorded in the spellings of Devaney, Devanney, and Deviney, appears to have French origins, but in fact is Irish. Long associated with the Irish provinces of Connacht, and East Ulster, the name is an anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Duibheannaigh", meaning "the descendant of the Blackbird". The latter was originally a male personal name of distinction, from early Irish myology. The surname was formerly prefixed with the Gaelic prefixes "O", meaning "male descendant of", but the use of "O" in this case seems to have died out in the 17th century. Irish Gaelic surnames originally signified membership of a clan, and for many this remains the case. However with the passage of time and geographical changes in places of residence many clans split into sections called a "sept", a group of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname. The Devaney sept of Ulster for instance provided the ancient chiefs of Ui Breasail, which may be described as the regional government, in County Armagh, whilst another sept of Delaney sometimes called "O'Duibheamhna", held territory near Lough Neagh in County Down. The first recorded bearer of the name (below) was the bishop of Down and Connor until he was martyrd in 1612. Examples of the surname recordings include William O Deveny christened at Templemore, County Derry, on October 29th 1657, Terence Devaney, who was christened at Cloonclare, County Leitrim, on March 10th 1845, and Winifred Deviney, who was christened at Mount Bellew, County Galway, on April 7th 1866. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Conor O'Devany, which was dated 1582, in the "Annals of the Four Masters" of Ireland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, 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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