An English and Irish surname, Cooley comes from the Old English terms ‘colig’ and ‘col’ which both refer to something very dark in color, such as coal. The spelling variations for Cooley include Colly, Coley, McCooley, Cullary, Couley, Cowley and Colley. The German spellings of Cooley would be Kuhl and Kuhle. In England the Cooley surname is found in most of the country. The highest numbers of individuals with the Cooley name are Yorkshire, the city of London, Herefordshire, Middlesex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire. In Ireland the Cooley family name originated in the northern Irish region of Ulster. In southwestern Scotland the greatest numbers of Cooley families reside. Most live in Lanarkshire and Kirkcudbrightshire counties. Within the United States the Cooley families first settled in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and New York. Famous: Ryan Cooley (actor from Canada), Chris Cooley (professional football player), David P. Cooley (Lockheed flight test pilot for a F-117 Nighthawk), Mike Cooley (signer, musician and songwriter), William Cooley (early 19th century Florida pioneer), Tonya Cooley (television reality cast person), Joe Cooley (Irish musician) and John K. Cooley (journalist and writer).