This very interesting surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Maolchraoibhe", descendant of Maolchraoibhe, a male given name having two distinct possible interpretations. Firstly, "maol" may derive from the pagan Irish "mal", chief, related to the Welsh "mail", hero, with "craobh", branch (in the sense of "sept" or subdivision of a clan); hence, "chief of the branch". Alternatively, the initial element may be the Old Gaelic "maol", literally meaning "bald, tonsured", but used here in the transferred sense of "devotee", with the saint's name Craobh; thus, "devotee of (St.) Craobh".Initially, "O'Maolchraoibhe" was Anglicized as "O'Mulcreevy", which is phonetically more approximate to the original Irish than the later forms "O'Mulcrew, O'Mulgrue" and "Mulgrew", all of which arose in the Ulster county of Tyrone. In Petty's 1659 "census" of all Ireland Mulcreevy is listed as a "principal Irish name" in the barony of Dundalk, County Louth, and "O'Mulcreve" in Orior, County Armagh. O'Mulgrew and O'Mulgrue both appear in the Tyrone Hearth Money Rolls (1664) in the barony of Dungannon, where the more usual form, "O'Mulcrieve" is also noted. At the present time Mulgrew is quite a numerous name in north-east Ulster. On April 30th 1778, Margaret, daughter of Mathew Mulgrew, was christened at Donaghmore, County Tyrone. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rory O'Mulcrew, which was dated 1428, in "Medieval Records of Dromore", County Tyrone, during the reign of King Henry V1 of England, known as "The Founder of Eton", 1422 - 1461. 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.
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