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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McNeill family come from? What is the Scottish McNeill family crest and coat of arms? When did the McNeill family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McNeill family history?

The Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland are the ancestral home of the McNeill family. Their name comes from the personal name Neil. The Gaelic form Mac Neill translates as son of Neil.

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Medieval translation of Gaelic names could not be referred to as an accurate process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and names in documents from that era are riddled with spelling variations. McNeill has been written as MacNeil, MacNeill, MacNeal, MacNeilage, MacNeale, MacNeall, MacNeille, MacNeel, MacNiel, MacGreal, Mcneil, Mcneill, McNeal, Mcneal, Mcneall and many more.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNeill research. Another 721 words(52 lines of text) covering the years 1590, 1730, 1370, 1380, 1526, 1562, 1640, 1631, 1640, 1612, 1613 and 1686 are included under the topic Early McNeill History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 111 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McNeill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McNeill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 157 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 McNeill or a variant listed above:

McNeill Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Neil McNeill, who landed in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1739
  • John McNeill, who settled in New York State in 1748 with his wife Elizabeth and five children

McNeill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Saml McNeill, aged 20, landed in New York, NY in 1803
  • Thos McNeill, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Mary McNeill, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Archd McNeill, who landed in America in 1805
  • Charles McNeill, aged 56, arrived in New York in 1812


McNeill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • James McNeill, aged 42, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast
  • Sarah McNeill, aged 42, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast
  • Mary McNeill, aged 19, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast
  • William McNeill, aged 13, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast
  • John McNeill, aged 11, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Ugoni" from Belfast


McNeill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James McNeill, Scottish Convict from Scotland, who was transported aboard the "Aboukir" on December 24, 1851, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Eliza McNeill, aged 21, a dressmaker, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Admiral Boxer"
  • Roderick McNeill, aged 44, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Switzerland"
  • Effy McNeill, aged 34, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Switzerland"

McNeill Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Duncan John McNeill arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1860
  • Henry McNeill, aged 18, a ploughman, arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Christian McAusland" in 1875
  • James McNeill, aged 29, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dunedin" in 1875
  • James McNeill arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Blairgowrie" in 1875
  • Mary McNeill, aged 17, a domestic servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waipa" in 1876


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  • William Henry McNeill (1803-1875), American explorer who discovered Victoria Harbour, eponym of Port McNeill, British Columbia
  • John Hanson McNeill (1815-1864), Confederate Captain in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, leader of McNeill's Rangers
  • William Hardy McNeill (b. 1917), Canadian-born, American world historian and author and is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago
  • William Donald McNeill (1918-1996), American tennis player named to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1965
  • Louise McNeill (1911-1993), American poet, essayist, and historian of Appalachia
  • Robert Duncan McNeill (b. 1964), American television and film actor and director
  • William "Billy" McNeill MBE DUniv (b. 1940), former Scottish footballer and manager
  • Major General Sir John Carstairs McNeill (1831-1904), Scottish military officer, recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Mr. James Hope Mcneill (1921-1941), British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died during the sinking
  • Mr. William Mcneill, British Able Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking

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  • Greer-McNeill Family History by Etta S. Greer.
  • The McNeill's Ferry Chronicle and Campbell University by Everett McNeill Kivette.
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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.

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  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  6. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  8. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  11. ...

The McNeill Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McNeill Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 19 March 2015 at 10:47.

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