The surname Nihill is of Irish origin. It is derived from a given name of Irish origin, Gaelic ‘Niall’ ( genetive Neill ), thought to mean champion. This was adopted by the Norsemen in the form ‘Njall’, and was brought to England both directly from Ireland by Scandinavian settlers and indirectly by the Normans. Among the latter it had taken the form ‘Ni(h)el’,which was altered by folk etymology to the Latin form ‘Nigellus’. The O’Neills of Ireland are a branch of the ancient royal family of Tara. They are said to have the oldest traceable genealogy in Europe, starting from around 360, their surname being the first hereditary surname ever adopted in Ireland; it was assumed by Donell O’Neill, grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The red hand of Ulster is taken from the arms of the O’Neill family. In post-medieval times they held the titles Earl of Tyrone and Earl of Clan Connell. Hugh O’Neill, second Earl of Tyrone ( 1540-1616 ) was the leader of an Irish Catholic revolt against English rule ( 1593-1603 ). After the ‘flight of the earls’ in 1603, some of the family settled in Europe, where des…
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