Recorded in many spellings including MacAuley, MacAulay, MacCauley, MacCawley, and short forms commencing Mc, this is a surname which can be either Irish or Scottish. It has two origins. The first is as a developed form of the early pre 9th century Gaelic Mac Amhalghaidh, which may mean the son of the heir of the festering one! This was presumably a reference to the first chief of the clan who held grievances against other unknown people over a long period of time. The second origin is from the Gaelic forms of the Old Norse personal name Aleifr, better known as Olaf; meaning or at least translating literally as "leaving god," which suggests that it meant something quite different fifteen hundred years ago...
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