Donnel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The root of the ancient Dalriadan-Scottish name Donnel is the personal name Donald. the surname is derived from the Gaelic Mac Dhomhnuill, which means son of Donald; it is a form of the surname MacDonald.

Early Origins of the Donnel family

The surname Donnel was first found in Inverness, where the origins of this name can be traced back to Somerled, Regulus of the Isles, who evicted the Norsemen from the Western Isles during the 12th century. From him is descended John Macdonald, first Lord of the Isles, and it was MacDonald's younger son, Ranald, who was the progenitor of Clanrald, which includes the families of Moidart, Morar, Knoidart and Glengarry. The MacDonells are from this last branch. It is from Ranald's son, Donald, that the MacDonell's take their name (Son of Donald). There is also a branch of the MacDonells that claim Ranald's other son, Alistair, as its progenitor (the Keppoch branch).

Important Dates for the Donnel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donnel research. Another 376 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1411, 1575, 1672, 1647, 1745, 1749, 1794, 1812 and 1790 are included under the topic Early Donnel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donnel Spelling Variations

The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years Donnel has appeared as MacDonnell, MacDonnel, McDonnell, MacDonell and others.

Early Notables of the Donnel family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Donnel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Donnel family to Ireland

Some of the Donnel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 118 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donnel migration to the United States

Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The Donnel were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

Donnel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • David Donnel, aged 23, who landed in Maine in 1812 [1]
  • Hugh Donnel, aged 37, who arrived in New York in 1812 [1]
  • James Donnel, aged 30, who landed in New York in 1812 [1]
  • John Donnel, aged 27, who arrived in New York in 1812 [1]
  • Barney Donnel, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1812 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Donnel migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Donnel Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mary Donnel, aged 71, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Forth" in 1833


  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)
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