Show ContentsCawley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Many variations of the name Cawley 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 of Humphrey. They claim descent through the Heremon line of Irish kings. [1]

Early Origins of the Cawley family

The surname Cawley was first found in county Westmeath (Irish: An Iarmhí) in the Irish Midlands, province of Leinster, where at one time the area which is now Ballyloughnoe was once called "McGawley's Country." There is another sept named Mac Amhlaoibh in Gaelic which were a branch of the MacGuires and mainly found in County Fermanagh. This branch gave their name to Clanawley. [2]

Early History of the Cawley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cawley research. Another 109 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1787 and 1841 are included under the topic Early Cawley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cawley Spelling Variations

People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Cawley that are preserved in archival documents are MacAulay, MacAwley, MacAuley, MacAullay, MacAulley, MacAwlay, MacCaulay, MacCawley, MacGawley, Magawley, Cauley, Caulay, McCamley and many more.

Early Notables of the Cawley family (pre 1700)

Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cawley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cawley Ranking

In the United States, the name Cawley is the 7,289th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [3]

United States Cawley migration to the United States +

Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Cawley name:

Cawley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Will Cawley, who arrived in Virginia in 1661 [4]
  • Robert Cawley, who landed in New England in 1662 [4]
  • Hugh Cawley, who landed in Virginia in 1698 [4]
Cawley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Cawley, aged 18, who arrived in New York in 1854 [4]

Canada Cawley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cawley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Ellen Cawley, aged 1 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Emigrant" departing 11th August 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 3rd October 1847 but she died on board [5]
  • Miss. Francis Cawley, aged 6 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Wolfyille" departing 25th April 1847 from Sligo, Ireland; the ship arrived on 10th June 1847 but she died on board [5]
  • Mr. John Cawley, aged 3 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Wolfyille" departing 25th April 1847 from Sligo, Ireland; the ship arrived on 10th June 1847 but he died on board [5]

Australia Cawley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cawley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Henry Albion Benjamin Cawley, who arrived in Glenelg Roads aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1838 [6]
  • Mr. Robert Cawley, (b. 1797), aged 46, English convict who was convicted in Taunton, Somerset, England for 10 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Cressy" on 28th April 1843, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cawley (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Gaynor Cawley (1941-2021), American politician, Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1981-2006), and former professional baseball player
  • James "Jim" Cawley (b. 1969), American politician, 32nd Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, from 2011 to 2015
  • Tucker Cawley, American three-time Emmy Award winning television comedy writer and producer
  • Rex Cawley (b. 1940), American Olympic gold medalist hurdler at the 1964 Summer Olympics
  • James Cawley (b. 1967), American actor, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the fan film series Star Trek: Phase II
  • Charles M. Cawley (1941-2015), American businessman and founding member of the bank MBNA
  • Alan Cawley (b. 1982), Irish former professional footballer who played from 1998 to 2011, member of the Republic of Ireland U17 National Team in 1999
  • Richard Cawley (b. 1947), English food writer, chef and fashion designer
  • Captain Harold Thomas Cawley (1878-1915), British barrister, Liberal Party politician and soldier killed in World War I, second son of Frederick Cawley, 1st Baron Cawley
  • Frederick Cawley PC, JP (1850-1937), 1st Baron Cawley, British businessman and Liberal Party politician, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1916-1918)
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Thomas J Cawley, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [8]
Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Richard Anthony Cawley (1945-1988), American Businessman from New York, New York, America, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [9]
SS Caribou
  • Mr. Preston H. Cawley, (Cowley), British passenger who was naval stores inspector from Montreal, Quebec was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking

  1. O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 69)
  6. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The PESTONJEE BOMANJEE 1838. Retrieved from
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 21st May 2021). Retrieved from
  8. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
  9. Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook