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History of the Neelys

The surname Neely and its various spellings is certainly not a common name, although it would not be
considered rare. It is not to be found in the published lists of common names in England, Scotland, Ireland
or any other countries with a thousand years or more of history. When it is found in books about names, it is
usually said to be derived from the ancient Irish name, O!eill, that was predominant in "lster and
descended from #!iall of the nine hostages. $or e%ample, &O'arts Irish (edigrees) on page *+* states that
!eele and !eely are moderni,ations of O!eill. -ooneys &The .enealogy of Irish $amilies) makes a
similar and more detailed claim on page /0/. 'owever, the 12!3 of known descendents of #!iall of the
!ine 'ostages is not close to that of the !eelys who have been tested so far, although the 4c!eely5s
primary group does appear related to this 12!3. -ecords of common people who lived in the 06775s are
very scarce and those in the 0+775s are rare indeed.
3lmost all the !eelys who were in 3merica before the -evolutionary War were born in Ireland, so this is
where we looked for records. What we found were many !eely records beginning in the early 06775s
coinciding with the English 5(lantation5 of "lster. The most logical and appealing theory that we developed
by the year 8777, which was based on our research and logical assumptions, surmised that the !eelys and
4c!eelys were septs of the 4ac!eill 9lans in the 'ebrides islands off the western coast of Scotland who
themselves were supposedly descended from the O!eills of Ireland and may have moved into mainland
Scotland and England in the 0/77s or earlier. 9onsiderable circumstantial evidence was found that
supported this theory. The !eely 12!3 pro:ect started in 8776 includes a sub group of !eelys as well as
4c!eelys who match the 4ac!eil 5;iking5 12!3, but with this e%ception, the results so far indicate that
our original hypothesis does not ade<uately e%plain where the !eelys came from who went to "lster.
The latest !eely 2!3 pro:ect results as of the summer of 870/ indicate there were at least / genetic groups
that mingled somewhere before or shortly after !eelys showed up in Ireland. Interestingly, the ma:or
grouping of the 4c!eely 12!3 results are not related to the ma:or !eely groups within the last 0,777 years.
This is discussed further in the 12!3 section of the website. The facts are that we do not know for sure at
this point who the ancestors of the !eelys were that first showed up in England in the late 0+77s and then in
!orthern Ireland with the advent of the English (lantation in the early 06775s. In more than /7 years of !eely
research, I have accumulated a significant amount of information on this family surname and the associated
genealogies and history in 3merica. The biggest surprise was the relative diversity of the !eely 12!3
results. This was a disappointment since I initially assumed all !eelys would have similar, but slightly
different 12!3 results. 'owever, that this was not so has turned out to be more of a blessing than an
obstacle in trying to piece together the bits of genealogical information that have been collected and trying to
link the records in 3merica to those we have found in Ireland even though it remains a slow and tedious
process. I have since observed that almost all 12!3 surname pro:ects are comprised of multiple genetic
groups. 3 small portion of this is caused by non paternal events =adoptions, etc.>, but I believe that most was
caused when different male genetic groups :oined with others of similar sounding names in the relatively
distant past.
3t this point, what we know based on records is that a significant number of !eelys were living in the "lster
province of Ireland in the 0677s, coinciding with the &(lantation) of "lster by England. They usually lived
with the (rotestants brought over from England and the Scottish lowlands who became known as "lster
Scots in England or later as Scotch Irish or "lstermen in 3merica, although they were :ust called the 5Irish5
when arriving before the -evolutionary War and shortly thereafter, even though there were no native Irish
among them.
Essentially all the early !eelys that emigrated to 9olonial 3merica came with these Scotch Irish from "lster
starting in the early 0?77s with most settling in the various Scotch Irish settlements in 3merica. 'owever,
some settled by themselves, mostly in (ennsylvania before 0?*7. They were almost always (resbyterian.
Since this group represents the !eelys living in "lster in the 06775s, they are our primary focus and their
genealogy is critical to match with their descendant5s 12!3 so we know what genetic groupings of !eelys
were living there.
The 4c!eelys, originally thought to be !eely 5cousins5, followed a similar path of immigration. @ater, during
the waves of native Irish immigrants to 3merica beginning in the mid 0*775s, I believe some catholic native
Irish !eelys may have been among them.
So, we have an older theory about the origin of the !eelys developed in 8777 that we now know is not
completely correct, but contains a lot fundamental information based on records that have been discovered.
@ike astronomical pro:ects able to look further and further into space with technical improvements, we now
are developing a new theory that is in the process of evolving as more 12!3 results point to and refine
likely possibilities that can be discerned from the more distant past. These will combine with the original
theory to better e%plain where and how the !eelys came to be. This outcome will likely take several more
years to accumulate enough 12!3 results, but that, accompanied by more evaluation of the records, is
e%pected to result in a new and far more accurate understanding of the !eely Origins.
This goal of this website is to show highlights of the records we have found and to keep you up to date on the
!eely 12!3 pro:ect
I am in the process of writing a book, entitled A!eely OriginsA with far greater details than the highlights on
this website. The book has been slow going, but I hope to finish in the ne%t year or so. I will keep you posted
of my progress on the website.
Bim !eely C 870/