This interesting surname has two origins. Firstly, it may be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic O Gabhlaigh, the prefix "O" denoting male descendant of, plus the personal name "Gabhlach" meaning forked. The surname, usually as Goly, is found in records of Counties Cork and Limerick in the early 14th Century. Secondly it may be of Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse origin and a locational name from a place called Golley, near Denbigh in Wales, deriving from the Old Norse personal name "Guethluag", plus the Olde English pre 7th Century "leah", wood or clearing, hence "Guethlaug's leah". The spellings of the surname range from Goley, Goly, Gooly, Gooley, Golley, Gouly to Goaley and Goalley. Church Records list the christening of Roger, son of William Gooly, on November 11th 1604, at St. Giles', Cripplegate, London, and the marriage of Thomas Gouly to Isabel Catherwood on September 3rd 1790, in Magheralin, Co. Down. Caroline Amelia, daughter of Daniel and Ann Goalley, was christened on April 29th 1823, at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Goley, which was dated 1307, in the "Ancient Records of Ireland", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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