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Smalling Coat of Arms / Smalling Family Crest

SMALLING is a corruption of the name SPILLANE which was derived from the Gaelic Mac Spealain. They were a sept of Eliogarty, whence they migrated to south west Munster. Families bearing this name may descend either from the MacSpealain sept or from the O'Spealain sept. Over ninety percent of the Spillanes in Ireland at the end of the last century were living in Munster; one half in County Cork and one half of the remainder were in County Kerry. Spallane and Spellane are recorded variant spellings of the name. Descendants of a branch of the O'Spealain sept in Connacht, however, assumed the name Spelman as the anglicized form of their name. In Castlegregory District and Anascaul District, both in Dingle Union, County Kerry, the surname was used interchangeably with Spelessy and Spillessy, according to reports of the Registrar of Births in the last century. Spellissey is, however known as a distinct surname also in Irish, O'Spealghysa, and found today in county Clare. Spollen, a surname found today in the neighbourhood of Tullamore, County offally and in Athlone, is generally believed to be yet another variant of Spillane. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the fathers Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

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Last Updated: January 15th, 2021

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