This surname of TULLEY was a locational name 'of Tullo' the name of places in Angus, Kincardine and Aberdeenshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'. Early records of the name mention Thomas of Tillow, a priest and Andrew of Tullowe, who were granted safe conducts into England in 1424. David Tullie, portioner of Kynmouth in 1588. (A portioner was one who possessed part of a property which had been originally divided among co-heirs). The name is also spelt Tulley and Tullie.
Families who bear this name in Ireland descend from the ancient Irish families of physicians called Mac An Tuile or O'Maoltuile, whose homeland was in County Cavan, County Longford region, where their one time presence is commemorated in the name of the townland of Tullystown in the barony of Fore, County Westmeath, close to the County Longford and County Cavan borders. 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.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
Arms registered at Wetherall Abbey, County Cumberland.
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