Delaney Surname Genealogy

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

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

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 Delaneys 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)



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