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The MacAulay surnames have their origins in Scotland and Ireland. 
There are multiple separate and distinct branches that are Irish and Scot, with both Nordic and Celtic origins in multiple locations throughout Western Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Northwestern and Central Ireland.

The original MacAulay surnames from Ireland and Scotland are the result of anglicized versions of old Norse and old and middle Gaelic personal names such as: Áleifr or Óláfr from old Norse and Olaf, Amliaoibh, and Amhlaidh from Irish and Scottish Gaelic. 

Many of the descendants preceded their original surname with abbreviations for “son of”,ie: Mac, Mc, M' and O’.

Development of surnames in the British Isles and Ireland are the direct result of the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Normans were obsessed with the feudal social system, control of the population, and heredity.
Recording of surnames expanded north and west as the English expanded their conquests and control throughout the isles.

The many and varied spellings of MacAulay surnames are the result of those who recorded the names over the past 4 centuries.
The exact spellings of surnames appear to be due more to the person who recorded the name and their location at the time than the actual surname itself. My McAuley family line was recoded with 12 different spellings going back to 1635.

Since the Y-DNA is only pasted from father to son, Y-DNA testing provides information for paternal (father-to-son) genealogical testing for surname DNA projects.

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