Delaney Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Delaney Meaning
The Delaney surname is Irish, from the Gaelic O’Dubhshláine or descendant of DubhshláineDubhshláine here
was composed of the elements dubh
meaning “black” and either slan or slaine
meaning “defiance” or was a reference
to the Slaney river that ran through Leinster.
The anglicized version was first Delany and later Delaney.
The similar-sounding
Delauney surname in France is unrelated and originated from a
place-name in
Normandy De l’aunaie meaning “from
the alder grove.”

Delaney Resources on

Delaney Ancestry

name Dubslaine was recorded in The Annals
of the Four Masters
as early
as 878.  Some have indicated a Norman origin of the name.
An early anglicized
form was to be found in Felix O’Dulany, the Bishop of Ossory from 1178
to 1202.  He was the man who built St.
Canice’s Cathedral
in Kilkenny.  The O’Dubhshlaine
name at
Coill Uachtarach appeared in a 14th
century poem

original territory of the O’Dubhshlaine
at Coill Uachtarach (now Upperwoods) was at the foot of the Slieve Bloom
mountains in county
Laois.  From there they spread into
Kilkenny.  If the “slaine” element of the
name referred to the river Slaney, then this sept might have originally
possessed a wider territory than has usually been assigned to it.

18th century Delanys in Ireland were:

  • Dean
    Patrick Delany
    from Laios who was prominent in Dublin life in
    the mid-1700’s and a friend and supporter of Jonathan Swift.  
  • and Bishop Daniel Delany from Laios who was
    active in re-establishing the Catholic faith in Ireland after the
    relaxation of
    the Penal Laws in 1782.

surname is still
strongly associated with the two counties of Laios and Kilkenny,
accounting for
around two thirds of the Delanys and Delaneys in Ireland in Griffiths
of 1850.  Delaney
is the
preferred spelling today.

England.  Many Delaneys from Ireland came to Lancashire in the 19th
century in
search of work.  Jeremiah Delaney from
Ballinakill in Laios
came to Liverpool sometime in the
1860’s.  He married Maria Nolan there in
1870.  Two
notable descendants of Delaney
immigrants, both born in the Manchester area, were the painter Arthur
Delaney and
the playwright Shelagh Delaney.  Her A Taste of Honey was
into a
gritty film of Northern life in the 1960’s.

There was a Delaney family from Tipperary, known as the fighting
Delaneys (because of their boxing prowess), who had settled across the
in Bradford in the early 1900’s.  Jerry
Delaney, a light heavyweight, was their best fighter.
But he was sent to the Western Front during
World War One and died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

America.  Thomas Dulaney came to
Maryland from Ireland
around the year 1709.  His origins are
controversial.  Some have claimed that he
was descended from the French Huguenot Gideon Delaune who had moved to
in the early 1600’s and been appointed as an apothecary to the Queen.

“Dr. Gideon
Delaune founded the Apothecaries’
Hall in Black
of him in
white marble
was erected.  He
lived piously to the age of ninety

, having
had thirty
children by one wife and about sixty grandchildren at his funeral.

However, the fact that Thomas Dulaney was born in Laios, the
homeland of the Delaneys, suggests that this connection, although
claimed, is
perhaps unlikely.  Daniel Dulany of his
family became a prominent and wealthy lawyer, planter, and land
developer in
Maryland.  Two of Daniel’s sons, Daniel
and Walter, were mayors of Annapolis.
Daniel was a Loyalist at the time of the American Revolution and
most of his property as a result.  
Dulany family story was covered in Aubrey Land’s 1955 book The
Dulanys of

Another possible
line here, this time via Francis and Agnes Delaney from Pennsylvania,
led to
Greene county, Tennessee after the Revolutionary War.  Sharp
Delany, who arrived in Pennsylvania from Laios around 1764, was
appointed the state’s collector of Customs in 1784.

Most Delaneys migrated to America in the 19th century.  Two who came to New York were:

  • John
    Delany from Laios
    who arrived in 1837, but found making a
    living there difficult.  Five years later he headed west to
    Illinois where he settled.  
  • and James Delaney from Tipperary who arrived in 1850 and
    started an undertaker’s business on Second Avenue in Manhattan.
    sons continued this business until the 1940’s.

African American.
Delany or Delaney has also been a prominent African American name,
dating back to slave times in Virginia and Georgia:

  • Martin R. Delany, born free in Virginia in 1812, who was
    writer and early advocate of black nationalism.  He was admitted
    to Harvard Medical School in 1850, but later dismissed because of his
  • and Henry B. Delany, born enslaved of mixed race ancestry
    in Georgia in 1858,
    who became in 1918 the first African American ordained as a Bishop of
    Episcopal church.  His daughters Sadie and Bessie were civil
    rights pioneers commemorated in a 1992 oral history Having Our Say when Sadie was over
    a hundred years old.

Meanwhile John Samuel Delaney, born in 1859 in Tennessee,
a Methodist preacher in Knoxville.  His son Beauford moved to New
York and, as a painter, was one of the leading figures of the Harlem
Renaissance in the 1930’s.

Canada.  Delaneys had an early
presence in Nova Scotia.  Patrick Delaney
was recorded as arriving in Halifax in 1749.

John and Catherine Delaney came there from Cork around 1818.  They were among the first settlers in
Antigonish, their farm at Tracadie Harbor being at that time one of the
farms in the county.  Another Delaney,
Patrick from Laios, came to Digby county around the same time.  Meanwhile Joseph and Jessie Delaney were the
forebears of the Delaneys of Churchville in Pictou county.
Their family story was covered in Nancy
Delaney Nawoichyk’s 2009 book of that name. 

Australia.  Three early Delaneys in
Australia were well
documented in family histories.

first was a convict, Nicholas Delaney from Wicklow, who was transported
to New
South Wales for life in 1802 for his participation in the 1798 Irish
Uprising.  As a convict laborer and
overseer, he built some of Australia’s oldest roads.
Later he married and became a farmer and
innkeeper and pioneer settler west of the Blue Mountains.
He died in 1834 after what appeared to have
been a drunken assault on him.  He is
remembered by his descendants in Patricia and Frances Owen’s 2010 book Rebel
Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798

Delaney from Kilkenny had been recruited by the British army in 1848,
first in South Africa and then moved with his family to Melbourne in
1853.  He spent ten years at Bendigo in the
Victorian goldfields before moving onto New Zealand in 1864.  Most of his descendants are to be found
there.  However, grandson George was a
successful horse trainer in Victoria in the 1930’s.

John and Bridget Delaney departed Tipperary
for Australia in 1854 in the aftermath of the Irish potato famine.  They made their home in Warrnambool, Victoria
where the family farmed.  When the farming
got a bit tough, they resorted to a little
whiskey distilling
.  Their story
was recounted in Joe Delaney’s
2004 book Delaney’s Corner: The Story of John and Bridget Delaney.


Delaney Miscellany

The Norman Black Slaney Family.  Dubhshlaine or Black Slaney was said to have been named
after Norman knights who moved through Ireland in the late 12th century
fight on behalf of a removed king of Leinster.
De Slaney became the family name of the Norman family which were
land along the river Slaine or Slaney. The Norman Lord of Slaney wore
armor and used a black sword in battle.

The family crest was made up of three
stripes, two light grey on either side for cleanliness, wisdom,
sincerity, peace and joy, and in the middle maroon for victorious and
persevering in battle. The crest also had three fish on the middle
pointing to
the fish of the river Slaney.  In some
versions of the crest there is the helmet of the black knight and a
stag atop
of the crest in honor of the knight who founded the family.

O’Dubhshlaine in the 14th Century.  O’Heerin’s 14th century Topographical Poems made
the following reference to the O’Dubhshlaine:

“The high chief of the fruitful cantred
Of the delightful Coill Uachtarach
Is O’Dubishlaine, hospitable the man,
From the mountain of the most beauteous river.”

Cancred here means the family’s territorial land.

Dean Patrick Delany.  His father had been a servant
to an Irish judge, Sir John Russell, who afterwards held a small
farm in
Laios. There was some money for Patrick,
born in 1684, to be educated as a poor scholar at Trinity College in
Dublin. Patrick subsequently became an
eloquent and renowned preacher and was appointed the Chancellor
of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in 1730.

However, he was to owe his prominent position in Dublin
life to his two marriages.  In 1731, at the
age of
forty seven, he had married Margaret Tenison, a rich Irish widow, who
him with funds to gratify his hospitable disposition and to indulge his
literary tastes.  When she died ten years
later, he then married Mary Granville, “a lady of uncommon brilliancy,
heart, and
accomplishments,” who was his junior by fourteen years.  Her
fortune brought a considerable addition to
his income.  She had visited Dr. Delany
during his first wife’s lifetime and had long been an admirer of his
and writings.

From his beautiful
residence at Delville in Glasnevin near Dublin, Patrick was wont to
collect a
brilliant circle, in which Dean Jonathan Swift shone pre-eminent.

Delany and Delaney in Griffiths Valuation.  The following were the number of Delanys and
Delaneys in Leinster and neighboring counties at the time of Griffiths Valuation in 1850:

County Number Percent
Laios    626    46
Offaly    103     8
Tipperary    201    15
Kilkenny    261    19
Wexford     77     6
Cork     75     6
Total  1,343   100

John Delany, from Laios to Illinois.  In his 71st year John Delany wrote the following in
his journal about his early years in America.

”I John Delany was
born on the
2nd of September, 1813 in Mountfaed in
the parish of Raheen in the Queen’s county (now Laios), the
eldest of twelve, five brothers and six sisters.
name was Michael Delany.  My mother’s
maiden name was Catherine Lawler.  I
left my father’s
house on the
12th day of February, 1837 and emigrated to the
United States and landed in New York.

York was very dull that year.  A
great many crises
and not much employment for immigrants of any
kind.  I
met with some relatives, acquaintances and some
warm friends.  Among
the latter was Catherine Rafter.
She got me a situation with a milkman on Long
Island at ten dollars per month to work night and day almost.  I
stopped there
two months.  It
was very hard times there, nothing for nothing.  With
relatives I had to pay my way, as well with
strangers.  It
was root little pig or die.  So
I pushed out on my own hook and went to the
Croton water works on the third of July.”

married Bridget Maher, also from Queens
in New York in 1842.
The same year they
settled in Newport township in
Lake county,
Illinois where their nine
children were born.

The Delaney Whiskey Distillery.  To supplement their income as farmers in rural
Victoria, the Delaneys began distilling whiskey for sale around the

At that time imported whiskey was
expensive (an import tax of 15/- per gallon applied) and there was a
demand for
cheaper good quality whiskey made in Australia.
Grain could be grown locally and pure water and firewood were
in large quantities.  Some distilling
knowledge would have been carried with the immigrants from Ireland.  In addition by 1878 the Delaneys seemed to
have gotten hold of an American guide The Complete Practical Distiller.  It was said that the
Delaneys relied on this
book in their whiskey-making years.  Its
thumb-marked pages were evidence of frequent usage.

March 1881 Warrnambool police received information
that there was a whiskey
mill in operation somewhere in the neighborhood.  They
soon arrived
at Delaney’s Corner and
arrested John
Delaney, charging him
with being on premises where illicit distillation was going on.  Inside
they had found
a still full of water with a large fire
under it.  There
were four casks of fermenting mash, bags containing malt and oats, a
cask with
fourteen gallons of whiskey and a demijohn of low wines.

Delaney was
a 27 year old bachelor
at the time and the
second youngest child of immigrants John
and Bridget Delaney.  In
court he claimed
that he had just called in to the hut
for a morning nip of whiskey, as was the custom in Ireland. The Bench
this claim.  John was fined
fifty pounds, a stiff fine at that time.
Being unable to pay, he was sentenced to three months
imprisonment in
Portland jail.

The Delaneys, however,
were not done with whiskey distilling, with the police this time being
after.  Customs
claimed that at their peak the Delaneys were producing 100 gallons a
Legend has it that the whiskey was labeled “Mountain Dew” and was
branded with the official government stamp.  It
was a common drink at
local weddings and one day at the Koroit races it was the only drink on
sale.  After
the second race the
crowd was said to be in a fighting mood.

The whiskey distilling continued until 1894
when the police closed down the operations, this time for good.



Delaney Names

  • Felix O’Dulany
    was the Cistercian Bishop of Ossory, from 1178 until his death in 1202. 
  • Patrick Delany was a renowned 18th century Irish preacher and friend to Jonathan Swift.   
  • Martin Delany was an African American abolitionist advocate
    and an early proponent of black nationalism. 
  • Frank Delaney was a well-known Irish writer, journalist and
    broadcaster who died in 2017.   
  • Ron Delany was the Irish athlete who won a gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Select Delaney Numbers Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)


Select Delaney and Like Surnames 

The Irish clan or sept names come through the mists of time until they were found in Irish records such as The Annals of the Four Masters.  The names were Gaelic and this Gaelic order was preserved until it was battered down by the English in the 1600’s.

Some made peace with the English.  “Wild geese” fled to fight abroad.  But most stayed and suffered, losing land and even the use of their language.  Irish names became anglicized, although sometimes in a mishmash of spellings.  Mass emigration happened after the potato famine of the 1840’s.

Some surnames – such as Kelly, Murphy and O’Connor – span all parts of Ireland.  But most will have a territorial focus in one of the four Irish provinces – Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connacht.

Leinster in SE Ireland covers the counties of Carlow, Dublin, Kilkenny, Offaly, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, West Meath, Wexford, and Wicklow.  Here are some of the Leinster surnames that you can check out.



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