This is an anglicization of the Gaelic name O Maolfabhail. The Gaelic prefix 'O' means 'male descendant (of)' plus the personal name Maolfabhal - a compound of the elements 'maol' meaning 'bald' or 'tonsured' in this case indicating a devotee of St. Fabhal. (The Gaelic word 'faball' translates as 'movement' or 'travel'). The families of O Maolfabhail, now know as Lavelle, belonged to Donaghpatrick in Co. Galway. Prior to 1850, the anglicized form of the name in Galway was O' Mullawill. Today, the majority of name bearers reside in Connacht, particularly in Co. Mayo where Lawell is a variant form. Mulfaal is the other main anglicization of O Maolfabhail, this name is chiefly found in Co. Donegal, the name bearers in this case, claiming descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O Maolfabhail which was dated 1659 Petty's 'Census' of Ireland. during the reign of Richard Cromwell, The Lord Protector 1658-60 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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