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Caulfield Surname

The following example of the Caulfield surname was taken from “THE BOOK OF ULSTER SURNAMES" by Robert Bell.


It is very difficult to unravel the complexities of this surname in Ulster. Besides being the name of a prominent English settler family it has been used as an anglicisation of severl Gaelic names and on of these, Mac Cathmhaoil, was also anglicised in a variety of other ways.

Sir Toby Caulfield, who was born Toby Calfehill in Oxford in 1565, came to Ulster in 1607, obtained large grants of land in counties Antrim and Derry and worked for the English Crown collecting rents and fines on the escheated O'Neill estates. He became 1st Baron Charlemont and the family remained active in the English interest throughout the next two centuries. His descendant Jame Caulfield, 1728-99, was the first president of the Royal Irish Academy and was made 1st Earl Charlemont. Before the Land Acts of the late nineteenth century, the family owned 26,000 acres in counties Armagh and Tyrone. The family built a stronghold at Aconecarry in Tyrone and renamed it Castelcaulfield, the original nucleus of the modern town.

However, present-day Caulfields do not necessarily descend from the English family, as in pre-Plantation days the Charlemont area was part of the homeland of the once numerous Mac Cathmhaoil sept, many members of which adopted Caulfield as their surname.

Further, in the Kilkeel area of Co. Down some members of the Crossmaglen sept Mac Eoghain are thought to have taken the name Caulfield. And elsewhere in south Down and in east Tyron and Antrim some of the MacCavanas, Gaelic Mac an Mhanaigh, also anglicsed to Caulfield. So too did some members of the Mac Coileain and possibly the Mac Gafraidh septs of Co. Fermanagh.

Taken from "IRISH FAMILIES, their Names, Arms and Origins" by Edward MacLysaght

Gaffney (Caulfield, O'Growney, Keveney, MacCarron)

Gaffney is one of those quite numerous Irish surnames about which much confusion arises. Not only is it used as the anglicized form of four distinct Gaelic names, but Gaffney itself has for some obscure reason become Caulfield in many places. It never appears today with either Mac or O as prefix: of the four patronymics referred to above two are O names and two are Mac. The principal sept in question was O Gamhna of Ossory, but there Caulfield is the normal modern form. In the same area Gaffney is sometimes found as the anglicized form of O Caibheanaigh, recte Keveney in English. Then we have Mac Conghamhna, a sept of the Ui Fiachra Aidhne in South Galway: there again Caulfield is found as an equivalent as well as Gaffney. Finally Mac Carrghamhna, sometimes MacCaron in English, is usually made Gaffney in Cavan and Roscommon, where the name Gaffney is most commonly found today. Mac Cearain, however, the name of a small Tirconnell sept, is the most usual original of MacCarron. To add to the confusion Mac Carrghamhna has been corrupted to O Gramhna, whence O'Growney in English, a name very familiar to all Gaelic Leaguers through the Irish language primers of Father Eugene O'Growney (1863-1899). Richard Caulfield (1823-1887), did much antiquarian and historical research for Co. Cork.