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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish Oneil family come from? What is the Irish Oneil family crest and coat of arms? When did the Oneil family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Oneil family history?

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Oneil is Ó Néill, which means descendant of Niall, a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean "champion."


People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Oneil that are preserved in archival documents are O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.

First found in County Tyrone (Irish: Tír Eoghain), the ancient territory of the O'Neills, now in the Province of Ulster, central Northern Ireland, and County Clare where O'Neill was chief of Clan Dalvy and of Tradree, a district in the barony of Inchiquinn. In the 10th century, a branch of this family went to Limerick to assist in the expulsion of the Danes. After one victorious occasion they wore green boughs in their helmets and on their horses' heads signifying their victory.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Oneil research. Another 215 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1480, 1559, 1530, 1567, 1550, 1616, 1612, 1664, 1694, 1689 and 1689 are included under the topic Early Oneil History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 205 words(15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Oneil Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the Oneil name:

Oneil Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Andrew, Bernard, Charles, Edward, Henry, Hugh, James, John, Michael, and Patrick O'Neil arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860


  • Barbara O'Neil (1910-1980), American Academy Award nominated actress for her supporting role in All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
  • Nance O'Neil (1874-1965), American stage and silent movie actress
  • John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil (1911-2006), American baseball player and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Michael O'Neil, American businessman, co-founder of O'Neil's, aregional department store chain based in Akron, Ohio in 1877
  • Sally O'Neil (1908-1968), born as Virginia Louise Noonan, American film actress of the 1920s
  • Edward William "Ed" O'Neil (b. 1952), American CFL football coach and former NFL professional linebacker
  • William J. O'Neil (b. 1933), American entrepreneur, stockbroker and writer, who founded Investor's Business Daily and the stock brokerage firm William O'Neil & Co. Inc
  • John O'Neil (b. 1915), American painter, educator and writer from Kansas City, Missouri
  • John Thomas O'Neil (1898-1950), American gold medalist rugby union player at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics
  • Keith Daniel O'Neil (b. 1980), former American NFL football linebacker from Rochester, Michigan



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  1. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  5. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  6. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  10. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  11. ...

The Oneil Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Oneil Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 August 2014 at 13:21.

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