The Clan/Sept History
Many variations of the name MacAwley have evolved since the time of its initial
creation. In Gaelic it appeared as Mac Amhalghaidh or Mac Amhlaoibh. The former
name denotes a son of Auley, while the later denotes a son of Auliffe or a son
Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because
the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name
was spelt and in what language. Research into the name MacAwley revealed many
variations, including MacAulay, MacAwley, MacAuley, MacAullay, MacAulley,
MacAwlay, MacCaulay, MacCawley, MacGawley, Magawley, Cauley, Caulay, McCamley
and many more.
First found in county WestMeath, where they held a family seat from ancient
To escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily
at the hands of the English, thousands of Irish left their homeland in the 19th
century. These migrants typically settled in communities throughout the East
Coast of North America, but also joined the wagon trains moving out to the
Midwest. Ironically, when the American War of Independence began, many Irish
settlers took the side of England, and at the war's conclusion moved north to
Canada. These United Empire Loyalists, were granted land along the St. Lawrence
River and the Niagara Peninsula. Other Irish immigrants settled in Newfoundland,
the Ottawa Valley, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The greatest influx of Irish
immigrants, however, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the
late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America and Australia.
Many of those numbers, however, did not live through the long sea passage. These
Irish settlers to North America were immediately put to work building railroads,
coal mines, bridges, and canals. Irish settlers made an inestimable contribution
to the building of the New World. Early North American immigration records have
revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name MacAwley or a variant listed
above, including: James MacCauley settled in Charles Town in 1772 with his wife;
Kenneth MacAulay settled in Philadelphia in 1774; Alexander, George, Henry,
James, John, William MacAuley all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
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