Show ContentsNiel 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 Niel 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 Niel family

The surname Niel 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 Niel family

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

Niel Spelling Variations

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Niel dating from that time include O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.

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

Niel Ranking

In France, the name Niel is the 2,675th most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [3]

United States Niel migration to the United States +

To escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, thousands of Irish left their homeland in the 19th century. These migrants typically settled in communities throughout the East Coast of North America, but also joined the wagon trains moving out to the Midwest. Ironically, when the American War of Independence began, many Irish settlers took the side of England, and at the war's conclusion moved north to Canada. These United Empire Loyalists, were granted land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula. Other Irish immigrants settled in Newfoundland, the Ottawa Valley, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, however, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America and Australia. Many of those numbers, however, did not live through the long sea passage. These Irish settlers to North America were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. Irish settlers made an inestimable contribution to the building of the New World. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name Niel or a variant listed above, including:

Niel Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Nicho Niel, who arrived in Virginia in 1698 [4]
Niel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Niel, who arrived in New York in 1799 [4]
  • John Niel, who landed in New York in 1799 [4]
Niel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Julius Niel, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807 [4]
  • Michael Niel, who arrived in New York in 1841 [4]
  • H Niel, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • Francisco Niel, aged 39, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1876 [4]

Australia Niel migration to Australia +

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

Niel Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary Niel, aged 27, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Fortune" [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Niel (post 1700) +

  • Daniel Niel, American Democratic Party politician, Presidential Elector for California, 1948 [6]
  • Niel Gow (1727-1807), Scottish violinist and composer, born at Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, on 22 March 1727, son of a plaid weaver [7]
  • Niel Hornbuckle (b. 1991), South African first-class cricketer
  • Niel van Deventer, South African producer and writer, known for Dis ek, Anna (2015), Teiken (2018) and Kamphoer (2018)
  • Niel B. Nielson (b. 1954), American academic, former president of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia
  • Niel Gow (1727-1807), the most famous Scottish fiddler and dancie of the eighteenth century
  • Niel Wright (b. 1933), New Zealand poet, literary critic, bibliographer, publisher, and cultural and political commentator

  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.
  4. 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)
  5. South Australian Register Thursday 8th June 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Fortune 1854. Retrieved
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from
  7. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook