- Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is (usually) an English surname. However it has several origins. The first being that it is the diminutive form of the personal name Paul.This was a Crusader name, that is to say a name of biblical or Grecian origins which was introuduced into Europe and the British Isles after the famous expeditions to free the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 12th century. Returning knights often gave their offspring biblical names in honour of their fathers expolits in the Near East. However a second possible origin is through the Welsh version of "Pawl" which has descended from the Roman "Paulus" meaning little, and hence a name of endearment. A third possible option is Norman-French and locational from the town of Pavilly, in the departement of Seine-Maritime. This place name also originates from the Roman personal name "Paulus". In the modern idiom the spellings include Pauley, Paulley, and Pauly. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Pauly. This was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1st of England and known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.