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MacNeil Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: BUAIDH NO BAS (To conquer or die)

Let me share with you an enthralling account of your family, the MacNeils, a lineage intertwined with a rich tapestry of history. Your family’s origins trace back to the illustrious Niall of the Nine Hostages, a figure who left an indelible mark around 400 AD as the founder of the Irish O’Neill dynasty, rulers of Tara and Ireland. Your ancestry is steeped in legacy, rooted in the remarkable lineage of Niall.

In 1049, a descendant named Niall embarked on a journey that led to the Island of Barra, where the foundations of your family’s story were laid. As generations passed, your family’s influence continued to grow. In 1252, Neil, the 5th Chief of the MacNeils, participated in the Council of the Isles and earned the distinction of being described as “a Prince,” a testament to the stature of your family.

The annals of history hold tales of valor and allegiance. Neil Og Macneil, a valiant warrior, stood by Robert the Bruce’s side at the Battle of Bannockburn, an act that earned your family lands in Kintyre as a mark of recognition. In 1427, Gilleonan Roderick Murchaidh MacNeil, the 9th Chief, secured a charter that granted lands in Barra and Boisdale from the Lord of the Isles, cementing your family’s connection to these ancestral lands.

The 15th and 16th centuries were marked by your family’s intriguing journey. The 13th Chief aligned with the intricate tapestry of allegiances, while Ruairi, the 15th Chief, carved his name as a daring pirate. Ruari’s son, Neil Og, demonstrated unwavering loyalty, fighting with Royalist forces during the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

As the pages of history turned, your family rallied behind causes close to their hearts. The echoes of your lineage’s support for the Jacobite Cause resound through the centuries. Black Roderick Macneil stood alongside Viscount Dundee at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, and steadfastly supported the old Pretender during the 1715 Uprising.

Challenges and changes defined the course of your family’s story. General Roderick Macneil, the 21st Chief, faced the need to sell Barra in 1838 to settle debts. However, the flame of legacy never wavered. In 1937, Robert Lister Macneil reclaimed the Chiefship and Kisimul Castle, a testament to your family’s enduring connection to their heritage.

Your family’s contributions extended beyond the realm of tradition. Sir John Benjamin MacNeill, a luminary, aided the renowned Highland road builder Thomas Telford and held the esteemed position of Professor of Civil Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin. Duncan MacNeill, another distinguished figure, rose to heights as Solicitor General for Scotland, Lord Advocate, and Justice General. His legacy is immortalized as Baron Colonsay and Oronsay.

The geography of your family’s impact is evident. The MacNeil name flourishes most in the Western Isles and Argyll and Bute, regions where your family’s essence is deeply interwoven.

Your family’s journey resonates in the landmarks that bear witness to your legacy. Kisimul Castle stands as a testament to your family’s enduring strength and resilience. Erected in the thirteenth century, the castle has withstood the passage of time, undergoing restoration to preserve its historical significance.

Your family’s narrative is one of perseverance, valor, and an unwavering connection to your roots. From ancient origins to modern pursuits, your family’s legacy is etched into the annals of Scottish history, a beacon that continues to inspire and uplift.

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The Family Crest

Wherever in the world you live, embrace your family heritage and adorn your home with a timeless symbol of your family legacy with our crafted Family Crests.

Family Crest Motto: BUAIDH NO BAS (To conquer or die)

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