Clan MacNeil in Canada
Founding Member of CASSOC
CREST: A rock sitting upon on a chapeau.
MOTTO: Buaidh No Bas, Conquer or Die, Victory or Death
Any of the various forms or spellings of MacNeil, McNeil, McNeal, Neil, O’Neil, Neilson, Nealey, Nealage, MacGuigan, MacGougan, MacGrail, or MacGugan.
For a complete list, please see Clan MacNeil in Canada’s website.
A Short History:
The MacNeil family has a number of branches including the MacNeils of Barra, the McNeills of Gigha and the McNeills of Colonsay. Clan MacNeil in Canada welcomes all descendants of the family of Neil. The clan prospered until the time of the 21st Chief, General Roderick Macneil who was forced to sell Barra in 1838. The General had no male heir, and the chiefship passed to a cousin, whose line had emigrated to America. It was from the New World that the grandfather of the present chief, Robert Lister Macneil, came to reclaim Kisimul Castle, together with the greater part of the island of Barra, in 1937. He devoted his entire life to the restoration of Kisimul. In 2001 Kisimul was leased to Historic Scotland for one thousand years for a bottle of Talisker whisky and £1 per year paid to the Chief and in October of 2004, the father of our current Chief, Ian Roderick Macneil handed over 3,600 hectares (comprising most of his estate on Barra) to the Scottish Ministers. The 1,300 inhabitants of Barra could then become the owners of the islands’ crofts (small tenant farms), two working quarries, foreshore and all fishing and mineral rights. The current chief of Clan MacNeil is Roderick Wilson Macneil of Barra. Currently, every four years, our Chief, invites all members for a Worldwide Gathering of Clan MacNeil on Barra. The earliest MacNeils arrived in Canada as members of Highland Regiments and stayed on as settlers in both Nova Scotia and to a lesser extent Quebec. McNeils also came to mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as Loyalists. The principal direct mass migration of MacNeils to Canada was to Nova Scotia (chiefly Cape Breton) and Prince Edward Island between the late 1790s and the early 1840s. In the 1840s a number of MacNeils moved to from the Margaree area of Cape Breton to the Cod River Valley area of Newfoundland. In 1851 a number of MacNeil families were removed by force from Barra and many of these people settled in Ontario. Other major emigrations were to Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario, to Western Ontario in the Sarnia and Stratford areas and Simcoe County. The last large emigration of MacNeils occurred in the early 20th century when a large number of MacNeil of Barra emigrated to Alberta, many of them later moving on to British Columbia. MacNeils with roots in Canada have spread across all provinces and the United States.
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