The NEL surname originated from The Viking name NJAL. A clan of Vikings settled in Ireland c. 500 B.C. and became known as the UI NEILL/O' NEILL clan. According to tradition, they descended from HEREMON, son of MILLISIUS, the first absolute Monarch of Ireland. The O' NEILLS of ULSTER are the oldest traceable family left in Europe. NIALL is an Irish word which means CHAMPION. The O' NEILLS settled in the Tara area, now County Meath, Ireland. A branch of the O' NEILLS moved to LYONS FRANCE c.1300 A.D. where the name was modified to NEIL/NEEL. When the French Huguenots fled to The Netherlands, the FRENCH pronunciation of NE - EL led to the Dutch modifying the surname to NEL.