Recorded in many forms as shown below, this long-established surname may be either medieval Scottish or Irish in origin. If the former, it derives from the Gaelic Mac Shealbhaigh, meaning the son of Sealbhach, a personal name meaning "Having possessions". Sealbhach mac Shealbhaich is the hero in the tale of the Balieveolan Blassrig according to Folk Tales and Fairy Lore, by Macdougall. Early examples of the surname recording include an allowance made to Mathew, the son of Maurice Make Salui, a Galloway hostage, in the calendar of Documents relating to Scotland in 1299. As an Irish surname it is from the Gaelic Mac Giolla Bhuidhe, meaning the son of the fair man, and probably a reference to a Norse-Viking chieftain. These warlike people were fair haired, and controlled much of Ireland for several centuries from the 8th century. The many surname spellings include MacElwee, MacCalvey, MacGiollaway, MacGilvie, MacKelvy, McKelvey, and McKelvie, the latter two forms being most widespread in the Ulster counties of Antrim and Donegal. On April 12th 1719, Mary M'Kelvy was christened at Carnmoney, County Antrim, and on July 3rd 1865, the birth of Edward, son of James McKelvie and Mary O'Donnell, was recorded in Dungloe, County Donegal. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Morice MacSalny. He rendered homage to the parliament of Scotland in 1296, during the Interregnum Government, 1296 - 1306. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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