This is an Irish sept surname found in the spellings of MacCaffrey, MacCaffery, MacCafferty, MacCafferky, in the "Mc" short forms, as well as Cafferty and Cafferky. It is claimed that the nameholders form part of the famous Clan MacGuires of Fermanagh, and an original measure of their importance being the original naming of the town of Ballymacaffry, in County Tyrone after them. The name is also widely found without the "Mac" prefix, most of these name holders being recorded in counties Meath and Cavan. The origin of the name is from the Gaelic "Mac Gafraidh" which translates as the "Son of Godfrey", and it is presumed that the first name holders were followers of the 6th century Saint Godfrey. The name has also been recorded in the phonetically correct "Mac Goffrey", although this is now rare. Early recordings of the name are sparse, but this is mainly because of the destruction of almost all Irelands early registers by the IRA in 1922, when they occupied the Public Records Office in Dublin, and wantonly destroyed the contents, to no loss to the English, but to the total loss of Ireland's heritage. Examples of the surname recording taken from surviving registers include Frank MacCaffrey, who was recorded as a witness at Virginia, County Cavan, on March 1st 1802, Anna Cafferky, the daughter of Patrick, christened at Kilkelly, County Mayo, on January 20th 1806, and John McCaffery aged 23, and Eliza, aged 20, who were "Famine Emigrants". They left Ireland, probably from Belfast Lough, on the ship "Atlas of Liverpool", on May 11th 1846, bound for New York. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh MacCaffrey, which was dated 1659, recorded in "Petty's" hearth tax register of Ireland, during the reign of Richard Cromwell, known as "The Lord Protector", 1658 - 1659. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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