This most interesting name with variant spellings Kerley, Turley, Terry and McTerrelly, found particularly in the counties of Galway and Roscommon, is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name "Mac Thoirdealbhoigh". This is composed of the Gaelic prefix "mac", meaning "son of", and the personal name "Toridhealbhach", having as its first element the Scandinavian name "Thor" (God of Thunder) and the second element "dealbhach", "in the shape of". The name has also been Anglicized as "Terence" and "Terry". In the 1750 Census of Ireland, both MacTerlagh and MacTurlough, appear among the principal Irish names in County Limerick. The places Ballymacurley and Curleys Islands are both found in Roscommon, thus emphasising the connection of the name with that area. The name is also recorded in London Church Registers on October 21st 1621 when Sara Curley was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, London. At St. Peters, Drogheda, Louth, Gerald Curley married Mary White on February 5th 1748. Nicolas Curley aged 24 yrs., a labourer was one of the many Irish immigrants who left Ireland for New York, aboard the "Tassie", which departed from Galway on June 8th 1874. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Syslay Kerley which was dated February 18th 1569, who was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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