The surname of McNEIL was a baptismal name 'the son of Neil' an ancient and popular font name, still in use today. Early records of the name mention Roger filius Nigelli, 1273, County Lincolnshire. Roger filius Nigelli, was recorded in County Lancashire in the same year. Henry le fiz Neel, was documented in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Nell de Hege, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Nele was a witness in Irvine, Scotland in the year 1455. Thomas Nele was the baillie of the burgh of Are in the year 1507. Thomas Nele was the baillie of Barnwell in Ayrshire in the year 1550. The name was taken to Ireland by settlers and the Ulster sept furnished kings and high-kings of Ireland. They belonged to a territory covering County Tyrone, most of County Derry and part of County Donegal. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Daniel Neal (1678-1743) was the English clergyman and historian, born in London. In 1706 he became an Independent Minister of London. He wrote several books including 'History of New England' in 1720.
John Mason Neale (1818-66) was the English hymnologist. He was a scholar of Trinity College Cambridge, and later warden of Sackville College, East Grinstead. He wrote many books on church history, but is remembered chiefly for his hymns. Among his best known are 'Jerusalem the Golden' and 'O Happy band of Pilgrims'.
About the year 890-93, a body of Norwegians from Ireland entered Yorkshire and were followed by a greater number, probably between 919 and 952. These Norwegians had been settled in Ireland sufficiently long to become partly Celticized and they have left their mark on the modern map of Cumberland and North Yorkshire in a series of place-names containing Irish loan-words.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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