The original homeland of the O'Coigligh sept, a branch of the powerful northern Ui Fiachra, was in the barony of Carra in County Mayo, a beautiful area. Quigley families now are found in all four provinces, although more frequently in the counties of Donegal and Derry in Ulster, and in the counties of Sligo and Galway in Connacht. When the sept was scattered during the upheavels of the 17th century, some of its members settled also in the east of Ireland in County Louth. The name was derived from the Irish O'Coigligh, the grandson of the escort or companion. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The name is also spelt Quickley, and an early instance of the name mentions John Quickly and Susanna Bort, who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1793. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.
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