Select Delaney Surname Genealogy

The Delaney surname is Irish, from the Gaelic O’Dubhshláine or descendant of Dubhshláine.  Dubhshláine 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.

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IrelandThe 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.

The 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 neighboring 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.

Notable 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.
The 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 Valuation 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 made 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 Pennines 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. 

.  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 London in the early 1600’s and been appointed as an apothecary to the Queen. 

“Dr. Gideon Delaune founded the Apothecaries' Hall in Blackfriars where a statue of him in white marble was erected.  He lived piously to the age of ninety seven years, having had thirty seven children by one wife and about sixty grandchildren at his funeral. 

However, the fact that Thomas Dulaney was born in Laios, the traditional 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 lost most of his property as a result.  
The Dulany family story was covered in Aubrey Land’s 1955 book The Dulanys of Maryland. 

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.  His 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 a writer and early advocate of black nationalism.  He was admitted to Harvard Medical School in 1850, but later dismissed because of his color. 
  • 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 the 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, was 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 largest 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. 

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

The 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. 

John Delaney from Kilkenny had been recruited by the British army in 1848, serving 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.

Select Delaney Miscellany

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

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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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