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Hugh O'Neall: His History and Reliable Sources

Being a Collection of Authoritative Sources which Purport to Acknowledge that One Emigrant Hugh O'Neall of Christina, Delaware Hails Precisely from Shane's Castle, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

This site is for collecting and publishing source information related to Hugh O'Neall and related Neal, Neale, and O'Neill lines for genealogists. The primary focus is designed for the thousands of descendants of Hugh O'Neall (O'Neill) of Shane's Castle, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland. He arrived in Christiana, Delaware in about 1725-1730, married Anne Cox and had numerous children.

If you descend from this Hugh O'Neall you are welcome to use this research I have compiled for your own family history. I am collecting all of the many sources which state he comes from Shane's Castle.

Why bother to do this since so many already believe, albeit know, Hugh O'Neall is from Shane's Castle?

Because certain alleged family history buffs are obsessively bent on misinforming and degrading those of us who believe the many ancient and accurate sources and individuals who state Hugh is indeed from Shane's Castle.

These researchers think Bryan O'Neill (his father) was dead in 1669, which would of made him 16 years old and the father of four at the time of his death. That is not possible, obviously, so this website is to set the record straight, once and for all time. I feel the main reason these alleged researchers wish to degrade this Hugh is that they are afraid of upsetting or alienating the O'Neill Clans, and even Lord O'Neill himself, who inherited thru a previously extinct line and changed his own name to O'Neill in order to be made Lord of Shane's Castle, even tho in 1854, Judge John Belton O'Neall questioned the validity of that claim by letter, which will be included in this study.

Shane's Castle in Ireland: Birthplace of Hugh O'Neall American emigrant Hugh O'Neill came to the Colonial Delaware @ 1725-1730 as a midshipman aboard a British Naval vessel. Prior to his arrival in Christiana, Delaware he lived at his fathers home, called, Shane's Castle on Lough Neagh in Antrim, Ireland. Having left Ireland by 1730 and being third in line to inherit, Hugh took his leave from Ireland forever, and raised his seven sons and one daughter in America, where many thousands of descendants live today.

Even his brother who came into possession of the Castle and its holdings in 1716 had earlier made his way in life by being a wool trader, rather than a Lord. He in fact displayed his wool cards predominately in the Castle Hall after inheriting to show he was not ashamed to be a tradesman. In 1722 he built the tomb for O'Neill dead.

Here is a picture Shane's Castle. Picture credit to "Ireland in Pictures" by John Fimerty, Chicago, 1898 among others. The 17th Century Castle before it burned.

Who was Shane and why was a castle named for him? Shane's Castle was named after the grandfather of Brian O'Neill, whose name was Shane McBrien O'Neill, the Castle is currently occupied by Lord O'Neill near Randalstown, on Lough Neagh, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Shanes Castle as described by actress, Mrs Siddons, "I have no words to describe the beauty and splendour of this enchanting place which, I'm sorry to say has been leveled by fire. Here was often assembled all the talent, and rank and beauty of Ireland. The luxury of this establishment almost inspired the recollection of an Arabian Nights entertainment." This widely quoted description of Shanes Castle is borrowed from The Official Guide by David Barzilay to Shanes Castle Railway and Nature Reserve.

The Burial Chamber in the same guide is described as being built in 1722 by "French" John O'Neill, brother of Hugh O'Neill/O'Neall and adjoins the graveyard. It bears this inscription, "This vault was built by Shane McBrien McPhelim McShane McBrian McPhelim O'Neill, Esq. in the year 1722 for a burial place to himself and family of Clanaboy." The coffins were removed to the family vault at Drummaul Parish Church in the 1850's. Sir Neil O'Neill, Battle of Boyne with James II, lived at Shane's Castle after our Hugh left in about 1725.

More is written about Shanes Castle in "The O'Neills of Ulster: High Kings of Ireland" by Sir Ian Moncreiffe of the Ilk and with additional information provided by Kathleen Neill. An interesting chapter in this source entitled "Odds and Ends about Shane's Castle" gives some insight into this ancestral home. It says, "a passage about 100 yeards in length runs underground from the Castle to the adjacent graveyard, and was the servants entrance." Also great vaults are built underground and raised the addition to the level of Lough Neagh and gave the building better frontage. There is an old safe and a curious figure-head, said to be much older than the ruins which contain it. The tradition states that when it falls so too shall be the end of the family of O'Neill.

So next is the ancient and growing collection of sources which name our Hugh O'Neall, being of Shane's Castle as the emigrant ancestor who became the progenitor of so many in America.

Sources and References: Hugh O'Neall is from Shane's Castle The following are references for providing the ancestry of our O'Neill/O'Neall Lineage:

Author: John O'Hart, Irish Pedigrees Vol 1, 1887 (in print 1989) This source lists Brian (son of Phelim) O'Neill as having three sons namely 1. Shane aka French John 2. Henry 3. Hugh (Hugh is the progenitor and the emigrant in our genealogy).

O'Hart's "Irish Pedigree's" Note: O'Neill (No. 4) of Shane's Castle, County Antrim, this Brian is the father of this Hugh O'Neill, of this research and collection. Note: Page 738, paragraph 2 #127. Shane an Franca......had two brothers-----1. Henry, and 2. Hugh" This Hugh O'Neill born c 1698-1700 at Shane's Castle is the progenitor of the American O'Neall's and other of his lineage.

Author: Sir Arthur Vicars, Perogative Wills of Ireland, Index, 1536-1810 Cites the 1739 Will of John, Edenduffcarrick, Esquire, County Antrim. This is probably Hugh's brother who died in 1739, he was known as French John. Additionally, there is French John's sons will which was written in 1768 naming, Charles, Shane's Castle, county Antrim, Esquire. This is a large will.

Authors: Judge John Belton O'Neall and John A. Chapman, The Annals of Newberry, 1892 Page 361 of this authoritative work talks about: The paternal great-grandfather of Judge John Belton O'Neall, Chapman states, "belonging to the ancient house of O'Neall of Shane's Castle, Antrim, Ireland." He is writing of his great-grandfather Hugh O'Neill/O'Neall. Chapman documents the above, here are copies of the exact information.

Judge John Belton O'Neall wrote of his life and family history in this work, "The Annals of Newberry". Two title pages and pertinent pages of text of this massive work are included on this site for the benefit of his descendants and family historians of the O'Neall's in America. "The Annals of Newberry" is the history of the O'Neall family in America, author Judge John Belton O'Neall related his families' history throughout this book and on page 278, paragraph 4 he writes about his grandfather, Hugh O'Neall, formerly known as Hugh O'Neill c 1700, Shane's Castle, County Antrim, Ireland.

John A Chapman writes: Writes in Volume 2 of "The Annals of Newberry" on page 361, in paragraph 2 of the beginnings of the American O'Neall's. John A. Chapman is another Hugh O'Neall descendant.

Forthcoming will be some of my websites:


This page belongs to Jill O'Neall Ching.