Recorded in many spellings including O' Garvey, MacGarvey, Garvey, and Garvie, this is an Irish surname. It predates the 1170 a.d. Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland. It was originally a descriptive nickname deriving from the word "gabbh" and literally describes one who was "rough and tough!". The name is also a rarity in that not only was it prefixed by both "Mac" and "O", it is also interchangeable with both Garvin and Garvan. Although now popular in Counties Cork and Kerry, the name originates from Ulster, the MacGarveys being from County Donegal, the O'Garveys from County Armagh, and specifically the barony of Oneilland East. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of the most famous of the clan John Garvey (1527 - 1595). He was the Protestant Archbishop of Armagh, and holder of the Murrisk Estates. Early baptismal recordings include Agnes Garvagh (an unusual variant spelling), who married Robert Warnock at Downpatrick, County Down, on June 11th 1715, and George McGarvey of Limerick, a christening witness on April 22nd 1749. The name is recorded in London as early as 1562, Edward Garvey of Cripplegate being a witness on June 14th of that year, and Susannah Garvey, who married Richard Cook at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London, on September 2nd 1792. which was dated during the reign of This Scroll was commissioned by Francis John Benfield Garvey, of Yelverton, Devon. 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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