The surname of HEALEY is one of the fifty most common names in all Ireland. The name derives from either the Connacht sept O'hElidhe which held sway in the south of the barony of Tirerril, County Sligo, where the townland of Ballyhealt commemorates their association with that area, or the Munster sept, O'hEalaighthe, whose sept centre was in the barony of Muskerry, County Cork. Heally and Hely are known variants. The is also a place 'Healey' a township in the parish of Masham in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Early records of the name mention Johannes de Helay, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Timothy Michael Healy (1855-1931) was the Irish Nationalist leader, born in Bantry. He sat in Parliament from 1880 until 1918, headed the 1890 revolt, and became an Independent Nationalist. He was the first governor-general of the Irish Free State (1922-28). Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
Among the Irish Jacobite exiles who settled in France after 1685 was Peter O'Hely, who descendants became the powerful family of Hely d'Oissel with a seat at Oissel in Normandy.
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