Neil History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Neil is Ó Néill, which means descendant of Niall, a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean "champion." [1]

"Of the very great antiquity of this distinguished name and family there can be no doubt." [2]

Early Origins of the Neil family

The surname Neil 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.

Early History of the Neil family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Neil research. Another 108 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1480, 1559, 1530, 1567, 1550, 1616, 1612, 1664, 1694, 1689 and 1689 are included under the topic Early Neil History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Neil Spelling Variations

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Neil include O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.

Early Notables of the Neil family (pre 1700)

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 known as the Great Earl...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Neil Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Neil World Ranking

In the United States, the name Neil is the 2,884th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [3] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Neil is ranked the 395th most popular surname with an estimated 118 people with that name. [4] And in Australia, the name Neil is the 999th popular surname with an estimated 3,959 people with that name. [5] New Zealand ranks Neil as 959th with 779 people. [6]


United States Neil migration to the United States +

Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Neil:

Neil Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Neil, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682 [7]
Neil Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ferdinando Neil, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [7]
  • Robert Neil, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [7]
  • Henry Neil, aged 18, who arrived in New York, NY in 1774 [7]
  • Matthew Neil, who arrived in America in 1794 [7]
  • Johan Henrich Neil, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1798 [7]
Neil Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Neil, who landed in America in 1802 [7]
  • Felix Neil, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [7]
  • Barnard Neil, who landed in Maryland in 1809 [7]
  • Edward Neil, aged 30, who arrived in New York in 1812 [7]
  • Hugh Neil, aged 42, who arrived in New York in 1812 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Neil migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Neil Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Edward Neil, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. George Neil U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1784 he served in the Loyal South Carolina Regiment [8]
Neil Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Neil, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1810
  • David Neil, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1820
  • Peter Neil, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1824
  • Henry Neil, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1826
  • Dennis Neil, aged 31, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Thomas Hanford" from Cork, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Neil migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Neil Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Neil, Irish convict who was convicted in Wexford, Ireland for life for being a political prisoner, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1804 he was executed for his part in the Castle Hill Escape. [9]
  • John Neil, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Miss Bridget Neil, (Neile), (b. 1803), aged 23, Irish servant who was convicted in Carlow, Ireland for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Brothers" on 3rd October 1826, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1853 [11]
  • Mr. John Neil, Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Neil Harkins, Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Barossa" on 8th December 1839, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Neil migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Neil Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Neil, aged 38, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Bridget Neil, aged 39, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Edward Neil, aged 16, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Ellen Neil, aged 14, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Caroline Neil, aged 19, a housemaid, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Neil (post 1700) +

  • Vincent Neil (b. 1961), American vocalist and musician
  • Dan Neil (b. 1960), American automotive columnist for the Los Angeles Times awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism
  • Mrs. Christine Drusilla Neil B.E.M., British recipient of the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to charity in Shropshire
  • Andrew Ferguson Neil (b. 1949), Scottish journalist and broadcaster
  • Gerald Neil (b. 1978), Jamaican football defender
  • Alexander Francis Neil (b. 1981), Scottish footballer
  • Christopher Neil, British record producer, songwriter and singer
  • Andrea Neil (b. 1971), accomplished Canadian female soccer player
  • Hunter Neil Windsor (1945-2021), Newfoundland-born, Canadian engineer and politician, MHA for Mount Pearl (1975-1995)
  • Andrew Neil Porter (1945-2021), English Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King's College London from 1993 to 2008

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. M.  Neil, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [14]


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  4. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/adamant/1821
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/brothers
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/henry-tanner
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barossa
  14. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance


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