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Updated June 9, 2019

Family name origins & meanings

  • English : nickname, perhaps for a messenger, from Middle English gō(n) ‘to go’ (Old English gān) + lihtly ‘lightly’, ‘swiftly’ (Old English lēoht(līc)).
  • Scottish : altered form of a surname of uncertain origin, possibly an unidentified habitational name. The earliest known bearer is William Galithli, who witnessed a charter at the beginning of the 13th century. Henry Gellatly, an illegitimate son of William the Lion, of whom little or nothing is known, was the grandfather of Patric Galythly, one of the pretenders to the crown of Scotland in 1291.
  • Irish : adopted as an English equivalent of Gaelic Mac an Ghallóglaigh ‘son of the galloglass’, Irish gallóglach. A galloglass was a mercenary retainer or auxiliary soldier (a compound of gall ‘foreigner’ (see Gall 1) + óglach ‘youth’, ‘warrior’). The name is also found pseudo-translated as English.

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