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MCNELIS Family History

Recorded as MacNelis, McNelis, MacNellis, McNellis and Nellis, this is an Irish surname of great antiquity. It derives from the pre 12th century Gaelic surname 'Mac Niallghuis', which loosely translates as 'The son of Neil, the vigourus one'. As to why Neil was full of vigour is unclear, but in the majority of Irish clan surnames, the origination is to do with a particular aspect of the original chief. This clan were originally from County Donegal in the far west of the country where they were coarbs, or hereditary holders of church lands and properties, at Donegal parish until about 1530.

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My Great-Great Grandmother was Susan McNeelis Lyons (@1814-1879). She immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States from Ireland, on May 27, 1851 on the ship "Courier" and was from "Donegal" . She was with her 4 children (Ann, Mary, Susan and John) and was joining her husband, Owen Lyons (@1811-1853). Owen immigrated four years earlier from Ireland arriving on Sept 6, 1847, on the ship "Burlington" from Liverpool to New York and was going to "Pennsylvania". He joined his brother-in-law, Thomas McNeelis (@1813-1899), who was a grocer in Philadelphia. By 1850, Thomas McNeelis was an innkeeper in Philadelphia. In 1854 he then was an innkeeper at the Atlantic Hotel in the newly named resort city of Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. He then became the second postmaster of Atlantic City, New Jersey (30 June 1856 to 27 Sept 1858 ). I saw a newspaper article of 18 Feb 1856 where "...the Brigantine House on Brigantine Beach ....occupied by Maj. McNeelis was entirely washed away and carried out to sea during a recent storm..." Brigantine is just north of Atlantic City. I do believe this is our Thomas McNeelis. I do not know why he is titled "Major" , abbreviated as "Maj." and cannot find more info on him in military records. I would like to find more info on the McNeelis family from County Donegal, Ireland. What townland are they from?

Brian Francis McNellis

I don't know who went before Ralph Cornelius McNellis of Donegal Ireland. I would like to know who went before my grandfather for a start. Ralph Cornelius McNelis was a alcoholic womanizer who bailed out on his four kids and wife Isabelle Brennan. Isabel Brennan, my grandmother went on to become the oldest living McNellis in America.


Robert Joseph McNellis war hero son a Ralph Cornelius McNellis of Donegal Ireland


My Father Robert Joseph McNellis was a war hero in world war II and Korea.


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