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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Neeley is Ó Néill, which means descendant of Niall, a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean "champion."


The surname Neeley was first found in County Tyrone (Irish: Tír Eoghain), the ancient territory of the O'Neills, now in the Province of Ulster, central Northern Ireland, and County Clare where O'Neill was chief of Clan Dalvy and of Tradree, a district in the barony of Inchiquinn. In the 10th century, a branch of this family went to Limerick to assist in the expulsion of the Danes. After one victorious occasion they wore green boughs in their helmets and on their horses' heads signifying their victory.

Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name was spelt and in what language. Research into the name Neeley revealed many variations, including O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Neeley research. Another 215 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1480, 1559, 1530, 1567, 1550, 1616, 1612, 1664, 1694, 1689 and 1689 are included under the topic Early Neeley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Notable amongst the family name at this time was Sir Niall O'Neill who distinguished himself at the Battle of the Boyne; Conn O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone (c.1480-1559) King of Tir Eogain; Shane O'Neill (c.1530-1567), Irish king of the O'Neill dynasty of Ulster; Hugh O'Neill ( c. 1550-1616), Earl of Tyrone, also...

Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Neeley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Neeley family in North America: Captain James Neale (1615-1684) who arrived about 1635 in Maryland and received 1,000 acres of land, many of his descendants became Jesuit priests; Edward Neal settled in Boston in 1849.


  • Paul Neeley (b. 1926), United States federal judge
  • Melissa Neeley (b. 1972), American radio news anchor
  • George Arthur Neeley (1879-1919), American politician, U.S. Representative from Kansas
  • Teddie Joe "Ted" Neeley (b. 1943), American rock and roll drummer, singer, actor, best known for performing the lead role in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973
  • W. Walter Neeley (b. 1908), American Democrat politician, Member of West Virginia State Senate 13th District, 1971-78
  • Melvin Earl Neeley, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Galena, Kansas, 1956-57 (acting, 1956-57)
  • John Lawton Neeley, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, 1915, 1915-21
  • Jim Neeley, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1996, 2000
  • George Arthur Neeley (1879-1919), American Democrat politician, U.S. Representative from Kansas 7th District, 1912-15; Candidate for U.S. Senator from Kansas, 1914; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kansas, 1916
  • Charles H. Neeley, American politician, Mayor of Paris, Texas, 1998-2000

  • Borrer: Descendants of Elijah Borrer and Celia Williams Borrer and their Related Families by William Otis Hallmark.
  • Neely, 200 Years in America by Marie Davis Wiles.

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    Other References

    1. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
    2. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
    3. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
    4. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
    5. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    7. 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).
    8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    9. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
    10. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
    11. ...

    The Neeley Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Neeley 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 10 February 2016 at 14:10.

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