The MacAulays of Dumbartonshire, Scotland, derive their name from the Olde Gaelic "Mac-Amhalghaidh". The Gaelic prefix "mac" means "son of", plus the personal byname Amhalghaidh, from "amhail", like unto, and "ghaidh", the genitive form of "gad", a willow withe or twig. The hebridean MacAulays, on the other hand, claim descent from one, MacAmhlaibh, i.e. "son of Amlaib", the Olde Gaelic form of the norse personal name Anleifr, composed of the elements "ans", god, plus "leifr", relic (from "Leifa", to leave). Scandinavian influence was particularly strong in the north of Scotland, and several Scandinavian names were incorporated into the native language. Two separate MacAuley clans exist in Ireland, the one belonging to County Westmeath and the other belonging to County Fermanagh. Catherine McAuley (1787 - 1841), foundress of the Order of Mercy sisters, is the most famous Irish namebearer. Thomas Baington Macaulous, (1800 - 1859) published his "History of England" in 1848. He became lord rector of Glasgow university, in 1849 and was created Baron Macaulay of Rothley, 1857. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Iwar McAulay of Lennox, which was dated 1326, "The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King Robert, "The Bruce of Scotland", 1306 - 1329. 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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