This surname HELVEY is derived from the Gaelic O'hAilbheartaigh, a name which means 'one who is accomplished'. It is familiar to County Donegeal. The maritime Ulster county of Donegal in the extreme north-west of Ireland is bounded on the west and north by the Atlantic ocean, to the south by Donegal Bay and an extending extremity of County Leitrim on the east by Lough Foyle which seperates it from County Derry and to the south-east by land boundaries with county Tyrone and County Fermanagh. The ancient name of the region was Tyrconnell or Tirconnell and its chief families were the ruling O'Donnells and O'Dohertys. The county was erected by the Lord Deputy in 1584, and after the forfeiture to the Crown of the O'Donnell estates, the lands of the county were included in the ambitious Ulster plantation scheme. About four-fifths of the cultivable land in the county was allotted for settlement in 62 portions, 47 for English and Scottish undertakers and servitors, and 15 for native Irish. The rest of the good land was assigned to the established church for its support to Trinity College, and for the support of schools in Derry and Donegal and to five corporate towns. HALVEY, HELVETIUS, HALFERTY and HELVERTY are its variants. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. Claude Adrien HELVETIUS (1715-71) was the French philosopher of Swiss origin, born in Paris. He trained for a financial career and in 1738 was appointed to the lucrative office of farmer-general. From there he moved to become chamberlain to the queen's household where he associated with the French philosophers of the day. In 1758 he published 'De l'esprit' advancing the view that sensation is the source of all intellectual activity and that self-interest is the motive force of all human action.
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