Donnelley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the Donnelley family

The surname Donnelley 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 Donnelley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donnelley 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 Donnelley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donnelley Spelling Variations

Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Donnelley are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Donnely, Donnelly, Donelly, O'Donnelly, O'Donelly, Donnolly, Donnally, Donolly, Donnilly, Donnelie, Donneley, O'Donnally and many more.

Early Notables of the Donnelley 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 Donnelley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Donnelley migration to Australia +

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

Donnelley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Donnelley, (Donnelly), (b. 1793), aged 27, Irish labourer who was convicted in County Kerry, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1824 [1]
  • Peter Donnelley, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Mr. William Donnelley, Welsh convict who was convicted in Anglesey, Wales for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 27th August 1836, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]


  1. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dorothy
  2. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th October 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eden


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