MacMeil History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The west coast of Scotland and the rocky Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the MacMeil family. The root of their name is the personal name Neil. The Gaelic form Mac Neill translates as son of Neil.
Early Origins of the MacMeil family
The surname MacMeil 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 MacMeil family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacMeil 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 MacMeil History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacMeil 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. MacMeil 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 MacMeil 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...
Migration of the MacMeil family to Ireland
Some of the MacMeil family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Migration of the MacMeil family
Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name MacMeil or a variant listed above: Daniel Macneil, who arrived in Boston in 1652; James Macneil, who arrived in Boston in 1652; Daniel Macneele, who arrived in Maryland in 1674; Hector MacNeale, who arrived in Virginia in 1700.
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.