O'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 O'Neil is Ó Néill, which means descendant of Niall, a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean "champion."

Early Origins of the O'Neil family

The surname O'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 O'Neil family

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

O'Neil Spelling Variations

People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname O'Neil that are preserved in archival documents are O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.

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


United States O'Neil migration to the United States +

A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the O'Neil name:

O'Neil Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew, Bernard, Charles, Edward, Henry, Hugh, James, John, Michael, and Patrick O'Neil, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860

Canada O'Neil migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

O'Neil Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Eleanor O'Neil, aged 42, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Amynta" from Plymouth, England
  • Eleanor O'Neil, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Amynta" from Plymouth, England
  • Parmella O'Neil, aged 16, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Amynta" from Plymouth, England
  • Thomas O'Neil, aged 14, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Amynta" from Plymouth, England
  • Abraham O'Neil, aged 7, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Amynta" from Plymouth, England
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia O'Neil migration to Australia +

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

O'Neil Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William O'Neil, English convict who was convicted in Chester, Cheshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [1]
  • Mr. William O'neil, (b. 1811), aged 22, English labourer who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1876 [1]
  • Rosannah O'Neil, (neê) McCready, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Mr. William O'neil, (b. 1810), aged 24, English convict who was convicted in Worcester, Worcestershire, England for life, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 27th September 1834, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Henry O'Neil, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Britannia" in 1846 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand O'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:

O'Neil Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Henry O'Neil, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Tobago" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th September 1842 [5]
  • Mr. Samuel O'Neil, (b. 1836), aged 24, Scottish farm labourer from Ayrshire travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st August 1860 [5]
  • Mr. John O'Neil, (b. 1835), aged 28, British labourer travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [6]
  • John O'Neil, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Annie Wilson" in 1863
  • Lewis O'Neil, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Annie Wilson" in 1863
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Neil (post 1700) +

  • William T. O'Neil (b. 1850), American Republican politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Franklin County, 1882-85; Presidential Elector for New York, 1900; Member of New York State Senate 34th District, 1907-08 [7]
  • William J. O'Neil, American Democrat politician, Member of Michigan State House of Representatives 24th District, 1999- [7]
  • William J. O'Neil, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1876; Member of Ohio State House of Representatives from Hamilton County; Elected 1897 [7]
  • William F. O'Neil Jr., American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1972 [7]
  • William F. O'Neil, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Justice of New York Supreme Court 2nd District, 1896 [7]
  • William C. O'Neil, American politician, Postmaster at Dover, Delaware, 1794-95 [7]
  • William B. O'Neil, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1972 [7]
  • William O'Neil, American politician, Delegate to Ohio convention to ratify 21st amendment, 1933 [7]
  • William O'Neil, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Florida, 1912 [7]
  • Vincent O'Neil, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1944 [7]
  • ... (Another 86 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Owen O'Neil (b. 1922), Welsh Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Flint, Flintshire, Wales, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [8]
Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Mary Denice O'Neil (1967-1988), American Student from Bronx, New York, America, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [9]


  1. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  2. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Amphitrite voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1833 with 99 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/amphitrite/1833
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BRITANNIA 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846Britannia.htm
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 3) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  9. ^ Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | syracuse.com. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/pan_am_flight_103s_victims_a_list_of_those_killed_25_years_ago.html


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