MacKniel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The MacKniel family comes from the ancient Scottish Dalriadan clans of the mountainous west coast of Scotland. The name MacKniel is derived from the personal name Neil. The Gaelic form Mac Neill translates as son of Neil.

Early Origins of the MacKniel family

The surname MacKniel was first found in on the islands of Barra, Gigha, Colonsay, and Oronsay. According to traditional records in 1049, Niall, a direct descendent of King Niall of the Nine Hostages, landed in Barra and founded the Clan MacNeill of Barra.

However, another kinsman, some believe to be the younger brother of Niall named Anrothan, married a Princess of the Dalriadans, an ancient race from which sprang most of the early Scottish Kings. Legend has it that Anrothan started the MacNeill house of Colonsay through his son Torquil of Taynish.

This latter branch acquired the lands of Gigha, Colonsay and Oronsay, beyond the Firth of Lorne. For the next two centuries it appears as though these two great houses were developing independently of one another.

Early History of the MacKniel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacKniel research. Another 361 words (26 lines of text) covering the years 1590, 1730, 1370, 1380, 1526, 1562, 1640, 1631, 1640, 1612, 1613, 1686 and are included under the topic Early MacKniel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacKniel Spelling Variations

Spelling variations were extremely common in medieval names, since scribes from that era recorded names according to sound rather than a standard set of rules. MacKniel has appeared in various documents spelled MacNeil, MacNeill, MacNeal, MacNeilage, MacNeale, MacNeall, MacNeille, MacNeel, MacNiel, MacGreal, Mcneil, Mcneill, McNeal, Mcneal, Mcneall and many more.

Early Notables of the MacKniel family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Nigel M'Nele, Laird of Blarekanne c. 1370-1380; Alexander Makneyll, a notary public in Edinburgh in 1526; Richard Neile (1562-1640) was an English churchman, Archbishop...
Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacKniel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacKniel family to Ireland

Some of the MacKniel family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 85 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States MacKniel migration to the United States +

Dalriadan families proliferated in North America. Their descendants still populate many communities in the eastern parts of both the United States and Canada. Some settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists, in the wake of the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border have recovered much of their heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and highland games. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name MacKniel or a variant listed above:

MacKniel Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Mackniel, who arrived in Virginia in 1652 [1]


The MacKniel Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vincere vel mori
Motto Translation: To conquer or die.


  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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook