Recorded in many forms including Malley, Mailey, Meally, Melley, Melly, Melia, Millie, Milley, Mylie, Mulley, this is an Anglo-Irish surname. If Irish it derives from the pre 10th century Gaelic O' Maille, meaning the male descendant of the prince, although who the prince was is not proven. This great clan belonged exclusively to County Mayo, and they held sway over the baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk in that county. Many members were renowned for their prowess at sea which is encapsulated in their motto, "Terra marique potens" meaning "Powerful by land and sea".Outstanding in this connection was Grace O' Malley, described by her contemporaries as "a most famous sea captain". Popularly known as "Graine Mhaol", she was the subject of many romantic tales. If English it is believed to be a Northern or Scottish diminutive endeament of the popular surname Mill, meaning one who lived or worked by a mill, or as a short form of the equally popular female personal name Millicent, of early French origins. It is quite impossible to tell from the recordings. Examples of the early name recording include Anthonie Milley at the church of St Andrews Undershaft in the city of London, on November 18th 1598, Thomas Malley, who embarked on the ship "Sheridan of Liverpool", bound for New York on May 7th 1846, whilst Arthur Mailey was a famous Australian cricketer before the Second World War. The coat of arms depicts a red boar passant on a gold shield, the crest being a ship with three masts, sails set all proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Grace O' Malley. This was dated 1530, in the records of County Mayo, Connacht, during the reign of King Henry V111 of England, 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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