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Neal Genealogy and Neal Family History Information

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About the Neal surname

- believed to have originated from Englaand but moved to Ireland to avoid persecution (and later were part of the great Irish immigration to America). They are believed to be part of the Nial of the Nine Hostages. -Celtic meaning is Champion or Victory of the people. -an interesting story of the Neal Crest goes as follows: The king was on board ship and promised a large estate to the person who could touch the shore first. One of the men was a Neal and the race was on. The other people racing for the shore were going to get there before the Neal, so he cut his hand off and threw it to shore, before the others touched the land. The King gave the Estate to the Neal and the "Red hand of Ireland" was put on the Neal Coat of Arms. Another version states: Legend tells that in an ancient expedition, of some adventures to Ireland, their leader declared that whoever first touched the shore should process the territory which he reached, and that O'Neal , from whom descended the prince of Ulster,bent upon obtaining the reward, and seeing another boat likely to land, cut off his left hand and threw it on the coast. (yet another version states right hand) The Red hand was adopted by James l as the badge on instituting the order of Baronet -Neal may be sometimes a contraction of Nigel -French origins from the Latin nigellus or nigel meaning black or swarthy - The name Neal is well known to mean 'the son of Neil'. The given name 'Neil' is of Irish origin and the famous Irish family Neill or O'Neill claim descent from the hero Niall of the nine hostages. In the days before surnames the given name was a Viking favourite and spread to England and Scandinavia - for instance 'Njal's Saga' is a semi-hhistorical Icelandic saga. When surnames were introduced to England in about 1300, the given name Neil was very common in the areas of Danish settlement. This spread of the given name means that the surname is common in places with Irish and Viking influence but does not necessarily imply Irish or Viking ancestry. As a general rule, the spelling 'Neal(e)' implies English descent, the spelling 'Neil' Scottish descent and the spelling 'Neill' Irish descent, but there are many exceptions because in the old days many people could not spell their own name. (Philip Neal)