Donelly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name Donelly originally appeared in Gaelic as O Donnghaile, derived from the words "donn," which means "brown," and "gal," which means "valor."

Early Origins of the Donelly family

The surname Donelly was first found in County Donegal. Later, the sept expanded eastward and became based at Ballydonnelly in the county of Tyrone. The name continues to be common in this area of Ireland today.

The name is believed to be directly descended from King Niall of the Nine Hostages, the great Irish general/king who died by the River Seine in France about 365 A.D., after soundly defeating the Romans and being instrumental in their return to the south. Niall made King Arthur's exploits seem rather small by comparison.

The Donnelly chief was always elected Chief Marshall of the O'Neill forces and their exploits have filled the pages of Irish history compiled by the Four Masters. They are a part of the great Clann Eoghan(Owen).

They claim to be seventeenth in descent from the great King Niall, and their territories were at Ballydonnelly in County Tyrone.

Early History of the Donelly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donelly research. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1641, 1650, 1716, 1786, 1816, 1825, 1826 and 1836 are included under the topic Early Donelly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donelly Spelling Variations

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the Donelly family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Donnely, Donnelly, Donelly, O'Donnelly, O'Donelly, Donnolly, Donnally, Donolly, Donnilly, Donnelie, Donneley, O'Donnally and many more.

Early Notables of the Donelly family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was Patrick Donnelly (1650-1716), an Irish Roman Catholic Bishop, known as The Bard of Armagh, born in Desertcreaght, Cookstown, County Tyrone. John Feltham Danneley, "born at Oakingham in 1786, was the second son of a lay-clerk of St. George's Chapel, Windsor. At fifteen years of age he studied thorough bass under Samuel Webbe, and the pianoforte first under Charles Knyvett and afterwards under Charles Neate. He resided...
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donelly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Donelly migration to the United States +

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Donelly family in North America:

Donelly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thady Donelly, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [1]
  • Arthur Donelly, who landed in Virginia in 1723 [1]
  • Charles Donelly, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [1]
Donelly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Donelly, aged 27, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [1]
  • Felix Donelly, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [1]
  • C Donelly, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [1]
  • Michael Donelly, aged 24, who arrived in Missouri in 1839 [1]
  • Daniel Donelly, who landed in Mobile County, Ala in 1840 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Donelly migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Donelly Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Donelly, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1828

Australia Donelly migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Donelly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Bartholomew Donelly, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [2]
  • Mr. Michael Donelly, British Convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 12th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Island) [3]
  • Catherine Donelly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Simlah" in 1849 [4]
  • Edmund Donelly, aged 29, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Constance" [5]
  • Edwin Donelly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1849 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Donelly migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Donelly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Donelly, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Blenheim
  • Mr. James Donelly, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Inchinnan" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 27th May 1852 [6]
  • Mrs. Bridget Donelly, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of the Deep" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th June 1854 [7]
  • Mr. Donelly, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of the Deep" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th June 1854 [7]
  • Miss Donelly, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of the Deep" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th June 1854 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th December 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eden
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIMLAH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Simlah.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CONSTANCE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Constance.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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