Recorded in various spelling forms including Ganlee, Ganley, Gantley, occasionally Grandley, but most popularly Shanley and Shanly, this is (usually) an Irish surname of pre 10th century origins. It derives from the Old Gaelic name "Mag Sheanlaoich", translating as " The son of the Old Hero". Who the "Old Hero" was is not known, but the name originated in the province of Connacht, and was first anglicized as "MacShanly" in the year 1404, when a farmer called Murray MacShanly was recorded in the annals of Connnacht. As MacGanly it is first recorded in Petty's Land Register of 1659 known to history as "The All Ireland Census". Irish surnames were often nicknames, and were originally held by the first chief of the clan or family. Some of these nicknames were not complimentary, but this is certainly not the case with this name. An early example of the surname recording was that of Edward Ganlee, who on January 5th 1691, was a christening witness at the church of St. Nicholas Within, Dublin, whilst history records that three Shanly's served as officers in O'Gara's regiment in the army of King James 11nd, defeated at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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