Recorded in an extraordinary range of spellings including McCoveney, Kavanagh, Keaveney, Keveney, Kevany, Geaveny, Coveney and Caveney, this is an Irish surname. It is of very ancient origins, deriving from the pre 10th century Gaelic forms of either O' Geibheannaigh or Mac Geibheannaigh and translating as the descendant of, or the son of, the follower of St Caomhan, an early holy man. It is claimed that the clan are traceable in Galway back to the year 971 a.d. and even in the 20th century, Galway is still the principle homeland. The "Mac" form of the surname is now usually recorded as McCoveney, and this branch of the clan is first recorded in County Fermanagh in the year 1308 when Teag Mac Geibheannaigh appears in the Annals of Loch Ce. Irish surnames are not generally found in England much before 1830, but this one is significantly earlier, although why this should be so is not known, but may be something to do with the tradition of hop picking in that county which drew workers from a wide area. Here we have the first recording of Joan Caveney, who married Edward Goldsmith at Canterbury, Kent, in 1634. 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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