The name Cawley is derived from the obsolete personal name Amhlaoibh, which is the Irish version of the Norse name Olaf.
It is applied to a sept of the Mac Guire clan of Fermanagh, which means that the progenitor of the name was called Amhalaoibh Mag Uidhir, or in English, Auley Mac Guire, giving his sons the surname Mac Amhlaoibh. He was the son of Donn Carach Maguire, the first Maguire king, who died in 1302, and his descendants gave their name to the barony of Clanawley in county Fermanagh.
The king of Ireland from 358 to 365 AD was Ohy Moyvane. His sons were Amhalgaidh, king of Connaught, and Daithi, king of Ireland. The Breastagh ogham stone near Killala has an inscription which states that it was erected to the memory of the grandson of Amhalgaidh (anglicised to Awley), giving the region the name of Tirawley. Although the personal name is similar, there does not seem to be any connection with the family name.
The name is anglicised to Mac Cawley in north Connaught and Fermanagh; or sometimes as Mac Awley, or Mac Auley. The name Gawley has the same origins.
In this version of the name the Mac has been dropped, probably since the time of the Penal Laws.
The coat of arms, by virtue of its recorded connection to the Maguire family, is the same as for Maguire, and the coat of arms of the family is described thus:
Vert a white horse fully caparisoned thereon a knight in complete armour on his helmet a plume of ostrich feathers his right hand brandishing a sword all proper.

Another sept with the same name is the Mac Amhalghaidh of Offaly and Westmeath, an area which was at one time known as McGawley's country, and this is also derived from the same personal name. This sept is not connected to the Fermanagh McCawleys.

The coat of arms of the family is described thus:
Argent a lion rampant, gules, armed and langued azure in chief two dexter hands couped at the wrist of the second.
[This means: On a silver - Argent - background, an upright lion - rampant - coloured red - gules - armed and langued azure - a blue coloured tongue and claws - and over this, two right hands.]
The crest is:
A demi-lion rampant gules. [(The upper) half of a lion rampant, in red.]

There are also Mc Auleys in Scotland, where the origin of the name is similar, but not connected to the Irish families, and some Mac Auleys living in Ireland, particularly north-east Ulster, are from Scottish stock.

Another "MacAmhlaoibh" coat of arms - not recognised by the Genealogical Office - actually Cauley or Cowley

The best known of the name is Catherine Mac Auley (1787 - 1841), who founded the Order of Mercy, and who appeared on Ireland's £5 bank note.
Spellings are Cauley, Caully, Cauly, Cawley, Cawly, MacAuley, McAulay, McAuley, McAuly, McCaulay, McCauley, McCaully, McCauly, McCawley, McCawly and in Irish, MacAmhalghaidh and MacAmhlaoibh.

The distribution of the surname versions in 1848-1864 are:

Cauley 31: Sligo 7, Mayo 6, Roscommon 1, Offaly 1, Tipperary 1, Down 14, Dublin 1

Caully 2: Derry 1, Westmeath 1

Cauly 13: Sligo 10, Mayo 2, Limerick 1

Cawley 178: Mayo 88, Sligo 70, Tipperary 11, Roscommon 3, Galway 2, Down 2, Cork 1, Offaly 1

Cawly 6: Sligo 4, Mayo 1, Roscommon 1

MacAuley 1: Down 1

McAulay 12: Cavan 10, Longford 1, Derry 1

McAuley 446: Antrim 219, Down 97, Donegal 37, Fermanagh 19, Derry 14, Meath 12, Tyrone 9, Dublin 9, Monaghan 7, Leitrim 6, Cavan 4, Sligo 4, Longford 3, Armagh 3, Westmeath 1, Kildare 1, Roscommon 1

McAuly 2: Longford 1, and Down 1

McCaulay 4: Donegal 2, Derry 1, Antrim 1

McCauley 262: Antrim 75, Donegal 69, Fermanagh 32, Down 28, Derry 20, Cavan 11, Leitrim 10, Tyrone 5, Monaghan 3, Armagh 2, Sligo 1, Roscommon 1, Galway 1, Louth 1, Meath 1, Dublin 1, Wicklow 1

McCaully 4: Antrim 2, Cavan 1, Tyrone 1

McCauly 33: Down 1, Fermanagh 10, Antrim 7, Donegal 6, Sligo 3, Cavan 2, Longford, 2, Leitrim 1, Tyrone 1,

McCawley 92: Donegal 28, Tyrone 14, Cavan 9, Antrim 9, Sligo 5, Mayo 5, Westmeath 4, Down 5, Fermanagh 3, Armagh 2, Leitrim 1, Roscommon 1, Galway 1, Tipperary 1, Longford 1, Monaghan 1, Derry 1, Louth 1

McCawly 2: Antrim and Tyrone


In England, where names are more often derived from the person's place of origin rather than their ancestors, the name Cawley has evolved in some instances from Cowley, a fairly common placename meaning 'cow-pasture'; the '-ley' meaning a ley field (untilled).

There is a famous (or infamous) Cawley in English history:
WILLIAM CAWLEY (1602-1666?) a regicide (of Charles I); son of a rich brewer of Chichester; educated at Oxford and Gray's Inn; was one of the commissioners responsible for the destruction of religious pictures and monuments in London and later became an enthusiastic commissioner of the High Court of Justice; bought up many Royalist estates in Sussex during the Commonwealth; founded St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Chichester, 1626; Member of Parliament, Chichester, 1627; fined for refusing a knighthood, 1629; Member of Parliament, Midhurst, 1640; an active member of the Long parliament; one of the judges at the trial of Charles I; and was signatory number 34 of the 59 who signed the king's death warrant; member of the council of state, 1651; Member of Parliament, 1659. In August 1660, following the Restoration of King Charles II, the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion was passed as a gesture of reconciliation to reunite the kingdom. A free pardon was granted to everyone who had supported the Commonwealth and Protectorate, except for those who had directly participated in the trial and execution of King Charles I eleven years previously. A special court was appointed in October 1660 and the surviving Regicides were brought to trial. Ten were condemned to death and publicly hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross or Tyburn, London, in October 1660: Thomas Harrison, John Jones, Adrian Scroope, John Carew, Thomas Scot, and Gregory Clement, who had signed the King's death warrant; the preacher Hugh Peters; Francis Hacker and Daniel Axtel, who commanded the guards at the King's trial and execution; and John Cook, the solicitor who directed the prosecution. A further nineteen were imprisoned for life. Twenty of the Regicides fled to Europe or to America. George Downing (1623-84), formerly Cromwell's director of military intelligence, avoided the fate of the others by tracking down and arresting three of them: John Barkstead, John Okey and Miles Corbet, who were extradited from Holland and executed in April 1662. John Lisle was murdered by an Irish royalist at Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1664. The last survivor of the regicides was probably Edmund Ludlow, who died at Vevey, Switzerland, in 1692.
William Cawley fled to Belgium and Switzerland where he died in 1666 or 1667; his estates were forfeited and bestowed by the crown on the Duke of York.

Another Cawley surname of English origin is:

Evonne Fay Goolagong-Cawley, born: July 31, 1951, Australian tennis player. In her long tennis career she won well over a million dollars. She won 90 professional tournaments and was a finalist in 18 Grand Slam events. A five-time Wimbledon finalist, Evonne faced some of the greatest women tennis players in history such as Margaret Court, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert. She won Wimbledon twice (1971 and 1980), the Australian Open four times, 1974 to 1977, and the French Open once (1971).
In 1972 she was awarded an MBE for her services to tennis, presented by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. On Australia Day during the same year, Evonne was named Australian of the Year.
In 1975 Evonne married Roger Cawley, an English tennis player. Her coach did not approve and ended their partnership. Evonne continued playing tennis and she won Wimbledon in 1980 in a memorable final where she defeated Chris Evert.

County Mayo

On 14th of October, 1653, after the Cromwellian war, the Commissioners for the Affairs of Ireland, in Kilkenny Castle, ordered that the strongest and ablest of the Irish nation should proceed after Christmas, to Galway, where they would be allocated lands in Connaught. The Catholic land-owning population of Ulster, except Down and Antrim, was allocated land in the baronies of Erris, Burrishule, Murrisk, Ross, Ballynahinch, and that part of Tirawley west of a line from Killala to Crossmolina.
It seems most likely that this is when the Cawley family, originally from Fermanagh, came to be west of Lough Conn, in the parish of Addergoole.

Lewis, writing in 1837, described it thus:

ADDERGOOLE; a parish, in the barony of TYRAWLEY, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 5 miles (S. by E.) from Crossmolina; containing 6725 inhabitants. This parish is situated on Lough Conn, by which it is bounded on the north, and on the road from Crossmolina to Castlebar: it contains within its limits the greater portion of the stupendous mountain of Nephin, which rises to a height of 2640 feet above the level of the sea. The land generally is under an improved system of tillage; there are large tracts of bog and mountain, which have been reclaimed to a great extent; and limestone abounds in the parish.

Castle Hill is the seat of Major Cormick; Woodpark, beautlfully situated on Lough Conn, of J. Anderson, Esq.; and Carrowkeel, of W. Bourke, Esq. A fair is held at Laherdane on the 29th of June, and at Ballagheen on the 24th of June. The parish is in the diocese of Killala; the rectory is partly appropriate to the precentorship, and partly to the vicars choral, of the cathedral of Christchurch, Dublin; the vicarage forms part of the union of Crossmolina. The tithes amount to £250, of which £13.10.0 is payable to the precentor £111.10.0 the vicars choral, and £125 to the vicar. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; the chapel is at Laherdane.

There are two public schools, in which are about 130 boys and 30 girls; and six hedge schools, in which are about 160 boys and 70 girls. There are some remains of an old abbey at Addergoole, and also at Bofinan; and near Castle Hill are vestiges of an ancient castle.


These Cawleys were given a grant or bounty for growing flax in 1796, in the parish of Addergoole:
James, Michael, Patrick, Thomas and William Cawley.

In Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, 1856/57, there were 92 Cawley properties subject to valuation in the county:

(of these, in Addergoole, Tobernaveen, the two indicated with ** had a forge)

1. Cawley, Andrew Addergoole Curraghmore
2. Cawley, Andrew Addergoole Massbrook, Lower
3. Cawley, Andrew Addergoole Tobernaveen
4. Cawley, Anthony Addergoole Tobernaveen
5. Cawley, Anthony Kilmore Termon
6. Cawley, Barbara Islandeady Lenanasillagh
7. Cawley, Bartholomew Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
8. Cawley, Bartw., Jr Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
9. Cawley, Catherine Addergoole Curraghmore
10. Cawley, Charles Addergoole Tobernaveen ***********
11. Cawley, Darbey Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
12. Cawley, Edmund Addergoole Tobernaveen
13. Cawley, Edward Islandeady Lenanasillagh
14. Cawley, Elizabeth Kilmore Inishkea, South
15. Cawley, Elizabeth Kilturra Ballindoo or Doocastle
16. Cawley, Francis Addergoole Cloghbrack, Near
17. Cawley, Helena Maria Crossmolina Town of Crossmolina
18. Cawley, James Addergoole Curraghmore
19. Cawley, James Kilbeagh Srah. Upper
20. Cawley, James Kilfian Cloonkee
21. Cawley, James Kilfian Seeaghanbaun
22. Cawley, James Kilfian Seeaghandoo
23. Cawley, James Kilmore Termon
24. Cawley, Jeremiah Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far (Black)
25. Cawley, Jeremiah Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far (Red)
26. Cawley, John Addergoole Curraghmore
27. Cawley, John Addergoole Curraghmore (Madden)
28. Cawley, John Addergoole Derryfadda
29. Cawley, John Addergoole Levally
30. Cawley, John Addergoole Tobernaveen **********
31. Cawley, John Islandeady Derrgowla
32. Cawley, John Islandeady Lenanasillagh (Martain)
33. Cawley, John Islandeady Lenanasillagh (Tom)
34. Cawley, John Kilbeagh Srah. Upper
35. Cawley, John Kilfian Treanagh
36. Cawley, John Kilmore Carn
37. Cawley, John Kilturra Ballindoo or Doocastle
38. Cawley, John, Jr Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
39. Cawley, John, Sr Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
40. Cawley, Mark Kilfian Treanagh
41. Cawley, Martin Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
42. Cawley, Martin Kilmore Fallmore
43. Cawley, Mary Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
44. Cawley, Mary Addergoole Cloghbrack, Near
45. Cawley, Michael Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
46. Cawley, Michael Addergoole Derryfadda
47. Cawley, Michael Ardagh Crannagh
48. Cawley, Michael Ballysakeery Ballybroony
49. Cawley, Michael Crossmolina Derryhillagh
50. Cawley, Michael Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
51. Cawley, Michael Kilconduff Town of Swineford Chapel St
52. Cawley, Michael Kilmeena Knockmoyle
53. Cawley, Michael Kilmore Leam
54. Cawley, Michael Kilmoremoy Town of Ballina, Bohernasop
55. Cawley, Michael Kilmoremoy Town of Ballina, Upper Piper Hill
56. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Bofeenaun
57. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Claggarnagh, East
58. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Cloghbrack, Near
59. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Cuilmullagh
60. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Derrymartin
61. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Doonbreedia
62. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Pollawarla
63. Cawley, Patrick Addergoole Tobernaveen
64. Cawley, Patrick Ardagh Crannagh
65. Cawley, Patrick Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
66. Cawley, Patrick Kilbeagh Srah. Upper
67. Cawley, Patrick Kilfian Treanagh
68. Cawley, Patrick Kilmore Aghleam
69. Cawley, Patrick Kilmore Fallmore
70. Cawley, Patrick Kilmore Inishkea, North
71. Cawley, Patrick Kilmore Leam
72. Cawley, Patrick Kilmore Termon
73. Cawley, Patrick, Sr. Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
74. Cawley, Peter Addergoole Tobernaveen
75. Cawley, Peter Ballysakeery Rathbal
76. Cawley, Peter Crossmolina Town of Crossmolina
77. Cawley, Peter Kilconduff Swineford (Lake Off Chapel St.)
78. Cawley, Philip Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
79. Cawley, Richard Addergoole Cloghbrack, Near
80. Cawley, Richard Kilturra Ballindoo or Doocastle
81. Cawley, Roger Islandeady Derrygooraun
82. Cawley, Roger Kilmore Knocknalina
83. Cawley, Sabina Islandeady Lenanasillagh
84. Cawley, Thomas Addergoole Derryfadda
85. Cawley, Thomas Addergoole Tobernaveen
86. Cawley, Thomas Kilbeagh Srah. Lower
87. Cawley, Thomas Kilturra Ballindoo or Doocastle
88. Cawley, William Addergoole Cloghbrack, Far
89. Cawley, William Addergoole Cloghbrack, Near
90. Cawley, William Crossmolina Gortnahurra, Lower
91. Cawley, William Kilmore Inishkea, North
92. Cawly, Peter Kilmoremoy Town of Ballina, Durkin's Lane

Also, some McCawley family members, some of whom feature in the births listed below:

Mc Cawley, Bartholomew Crossmolina, Grange
Mc Cawley, John Crossmolina, Grange
Mc Cawley, James Kilmore, Mullaghroe
Mc Cawley, James Kilmore, Tiraun
Mc Cawley, Rev. James Moygawnagh, Garrynagran

It is probably useful to consider that the Irish people spoke Irish at this time, and the distinction between the McCawley and Cawley versions should not be regarded as absolute; both were spoken as what we now write as Mac Amhlaoibh - the names listed here were recorded as a phonetic rendering in English, which gives us the present anglicised version (which is not a translation) by officials who for the most part had little sympathy for the people or their language.  

In the Irish form, the name would have looked like this:  

Cawley Births in Mayo 1864-1875: click here  

The name does not occur in any of the published Will collections; there are three Cawley wills recorded in the Calendars of Wills in the National Archives:
William Cawley, Labourer, Tubbernavine, 29 March 1919
Peter Cawley, Farmer, 24 Sept 1918
John Cawley, Erris Street, Crossmolina, Shopkeeper, 16 Feb 1918


The earliest documented records of the Cawleys of Tooreen (Toorín; small bleaching-green), Crossmolina (Maoilína's cross) are from Tobernaveen or Tobernavine, (Tobair na bhinn; well of the mountains) to the south of Lahardaun (Lahardán; sloping terraces). Map
The first member we know to be related to this family is;
1-- Charles Cawley, of Tobernaveen, Lahardaun, Co Mayo, born 1800, died 15 August 1853; married Mary, who was born 1801, and died 20 September 1881.
He was described as a blacksmith and farmer. Charles and Mary had the following children:
2-- William Cawley, who moved to the UK, where he worked as a blacksmith.
2-- Charles Cawley (1838-1922)
2-- Bridget Cawley (born 1 October 1841) She is not known to the present family and possibly died young.
2-- John Cawley (born 2 June 1843) died in Belmullet, Co Mayo; married firstly Mary Cooney, and had three children, Mary (1872), Bridget (1873), and Michael (1875). When he was widowed, he married secondly, Margaret ODonnell. He worked as a blacksmith in Belmullet. He had nine more children, Mary (1879), John (1880), Edward (1881), Charles (1885), Anthony (1886), William (1890), Margaret (1893), Nora (1897), and Margaret (1898). With the exception of Charlie Joe, they went to the USA.

Binghamstown or Saleen is 3 miles south-east of Belmullet town and eight miles north of Elly Bay. In 1795 Richard Bingham built a castle on the northern reaches of Elly Bay. It was built in castlelated style with the offices and gardens commensurate with the full extent of the building. Nothing substantial survives of Bingham castle except for low grass covered foundations. A portion of the castle was pulled down in 1929, and the remainder was subsequently removed over a period of years and the stone used to build later dwellings in the locality. The town was built in 1796 by Major Denis Bingham, and it was built essentially as a "landlord village" providing services for the Bingham estate. It was not until 1817 that a main road was constructed into Erris from Castlebar and it was only in 1824 that it finally ran through Binghamstown to the extremity of the Peninsula. In 1822 a coastguard station was built at what is now Belmullet town, and in 1825 a rival settlement was established by the Carters, and a new pier was built by the Fishery Board and Mr Carter in 1826. As the town grew the cattle fair became more popular and soon had taken much of the trade from Binghamstown. Finally in a desperate attempt to keep Binghamstown fair alive Major Bingham erected a huge gate across the roadway. Those who took their animals out of Binghamstown to the Belmullet fair had to pay a toll as they passed through the gate, giving rise to the name An Gheata Mhór (The Big Gate) for Binghamstown. By the end of the nineteenth century, Binghamstown fell into disuse. It is not clear when John Cawley moved to Binghamstown, but there were Cawleys recorded there in 1856/57, when he was 13 or 14 years old, and presumably he moved there in his adult life, possibly to live with relatives. The landlord in Addergoole was John Walsh, who also owned most of the southern end of Belmullet, where he had notoriously evicted a large number of families during the height of the famine, in 1847.  He was a brother-in-law of Major Michael Cormick, mentioned by Samuel Lewis above, as living at Castle Hill, and Walsh also resided there after 1835, and in Hume Street, Dublin. He is known to have encouraged other people from Crossmolina to move to Belmullet, when numbers of tenants were low, so that may have been a factor. Tobernavine is capable of sustaining only a very limited number of people, owing to its having the mountain on its west side, and low-lying bogland which has no capacity to allow for run-off of drained water owing to its proximity to the water table, on the east. 

To the west of Belmullet lie the islands of Iniskea and Inishglora, now uninhabited. In Griffith's Valuation a few Cawley families lived there. All the islanders left when Inishglora island was abandoned in the 1880-90 period, and the Iniskeas in the 1930s.

2-- Charles Cawley, second son of Charles and Mary Cawley, born in Tubbernaveen, Co Mayo, 1838, died 25 January 1922, and is buried at Kilmurry, Rake Street, Crossmolina; he was a blacksmith and farmer. In the land valuation carried out in 1856, he had several Cawley neighbours, some of whom, at least, were probably his brothers and uncles.
He married Mary Flannery, born Beltra, 1851, died 16 October 1896, also buried in Kilmurry with her son Charles, who was the father of Brendan Cawley of Tooreen.
Charles and Mary (Flannery) Cawley had the following children:
3-- Michael Cawley (born 24 November 1869, died 27 November 1869)
3-- William Cawley (born 16 November 1870, died 25 November 1881)
3-- John Cawley (see below)
3-- Maria Cawley, born 22 March 1874; married Anthony Noone (1874)
3-- Catherine Cawley, born 24 May 1876; married Peter Munnelly
3-- Bridget Cawley married Michael Brown
3-- Charles Cawley (see below)

In the 1901 census, in Erris street Crossmolina, there was a Cawley household whose head was Charles, a widower aged 62, so his date of birth was 1839. He was a blacksmith, and owned a Public House. Also present was a son, John aged 25, (1876); Catherine 21 years (1880), Charles 20 years (1881), and Bridget 16 years (1885). The 1901 census is notorious for incorrect dates of birth for adults, although it is usually fairly accurate in relation to children.