Show ContentsMcNeilly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The west coast of Scotland and the rocky Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the McNeilly 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 McNeilly family

The surname McNeilly 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 McNeilly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNeilly research. Another 361 words (26 lines of text) covering the years 1370, 1380, 1526, 1562, 1590, 1612, 1613, 1631, 1640, 1686, 1730 and 1890 are included under the topic Early McNeilly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McNeilly 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. McNeilly 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 McNeilly family

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 McNeilly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McNeilly Ranking

In the United States, the name McNeilly is the 16,430th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 1

Ireland Migration of the McNeilly family to Ireland

Some of the McNeilly 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 McNeilly migration to the United States +

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 McNeilly or a variant listed above:

McNeilly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John McNeilly, age 28, who settled in New York city in 1812
  • John McNeilly, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878 2
  • Robert McNeilly, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878 2
  • James McNeilly, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879 2
McNeilly Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Edward McNeilly, aged 24, who arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "War Thistle" from Newport, England 3
  • Arthur McNeilly, aged 18, who arrived in New York City, New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Northern Pacific" from Brest, France 3
  • Elmer McNeilly, aged 26, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "New York" from Southampton, England 3
  • William McNeilly, aged 59, originally from Johanesburg, Africa, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Imperator" from Southampton, England 3

Contemporary Notables of the name McNeilly (post 1700) +

  • Robert McNeilly (d. 2006), American safety officer, Pittsburgh Police Chief
  • Greg McNeilly, American Republican political strategist
  • Mike McNeilly, American Republican politician, Artist; Candidate for Governor of California, 2003
  • Jeremiah McNeilly, American politician, Postmaster at Seaford, Delaware, 1829-36, 1843-46
  • Paul McNeilly, British actor, known for his work in Black Beauty (1994), Driven (1994) and Outlaw (2007)
  • Andrew Raymond McNeilly (b. 1972), Trinidadian bobsledder at the 2002 Winter Olympics
  • Alexander James Whiteford "A.J.W." McNeilly (1845-1911), Irish-born lawyer and political figure in Newfoundland

The McNeilly 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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. 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)
  3. Ellis Island Search retrieved 15th November 2022. Retrieved from on Facebook