This is an interesting name of Medieval English origin which has two distinct sources, the first being that it is the diminutive form (son of, or a pet name) of the personal name Paul. It is interesting to note that the Welsh version is "Pawl", but the name originated with the Romans as "Paulus" meaning little. However it is also likely that this surname is a Norman locational name from "Pavilly", in the Seine-Maritime, which derives from the Gallo-Roman personal name "Pavilius". In the modern idiom the variants include Pauley, Paulley, and Pauly. In the placenames of Essex one, Wykkam Pawley is recorded in 1545. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Pauly, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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