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McNell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms



The ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland spawned the name McNell. It is derived from the personal name Neil. The Gaelic form Mac Neill translates as son of Neil.

Early Origins of the McNell family


The surname McNell 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 McNell family


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

McNell Spelling Variations


In the Middle Ages, the translation between Gaelic and English was not a highly developed process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and so, an enormous number of spelling variations appear in records of early Scottish names. McNell has appeared as MacNeil, MacNeill, MacNeal, MacNeilage, MacNeale, MacNeall, MacNeille, MacNeel, MacNiel, MacGreal, Mcneil, Mcneill, McNeal, Mcneal, Mcneall and many more.

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

Migration of the McNell family to Ireland


Some of the McNell 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the McNell family to the New World and Oceana


Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The McNell were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

McNell Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Cath. McNell, aged 22, who emigrated to America from Killaloe, in 1904
  • Lilian McNell, aged 3, who emigrated to the United States from Killaloe, in 1904
  • Lillian McNell, aged 3, who landed in America, in 1904
  • Thomas R. McNell, who landed in America, in 1908
  • Donald McNell, aged 17, who landed in America, in 1918
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The McNell 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.


McNell Family Crest Products



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