This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'Reachtaire", from the prefix "O" meaning "descendant of", plus "reacht", decree. The name belongs exclusively to Connacht, and is mainly associated with Co. Mayo. This surname is often confused with Rafferty but in fact is a wholly different name. Raftery shares with Rafferty in that both septs were involved in political and military activities, and cultural events. Church Records list the christenings of Thomas, son of John and Mary Raftery, on October 21st 1821, at St.Giles, Cripplegate, London, and Michael, son of Michael and Margaret Raftery, on August 26th 1864, in Glennamaddy, Co. Galway. Peter, son of Michael and Nancy Raftery, was christened on February 4th 1865, in Clonbrock, Co. Galway. Nancy Raftery, aged 24 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Galway aboard the "Clarence" bound for New York on May 29th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anthony Raftery, which was dated 1784 - 1835, the blind Mayo folk-poet, during the reign of King George 111 of England, known as "Farmer George", 1760 - 1820. 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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