Munley / Manley

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About us

The Munley / Manley Surname Project was originally part of the Manley Surname Project started by Cathy Manly Sockol in 2003.

The y-DNA results of many of the members of that project who claimed roots in County Mayo suggested that there were at least two separate points of origin for the Manley surname.  One origin was English and dates back to the time of the Norman Conquest when surnames first arose.  Another origin of the surname dates to one particular individual in County Mayo, Ireland about 350 to 400 years ago. 

The original surname in Mayo was probably some variation of Munnelly or Monnelly.  The DNA results suggest that there does not appear to be any familial connection between those with English roots and those with roots in County Mayo.

The Munley / Manley Surname Project was begun to further investigate the origins of these similar surnames and all their spelling variations, with emphasis on those Munleys and Manleys with roots in County Mayo.

Recently I noticed that several members of the Munley / Manley Surname Project had matches with members of the McAnally/ McNelly / McNally Surname Project.  Furthermore, the modals of the two surname projects are very close and the names sound similar in Gaelic.  I have invited a few of these people to join our project as well, in order to further investigate the possibility that there may be a connection further back in time.

According to stories handed down in many Munnelly /Munley / Manley families with Mayo roots, the surname in Mayo appears to originate from the name of the leader of a band of fighting men from the powerful Doherty Clan of the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland who moved his men to County Mayo in the fifteenth century.  There is also a reference to this man and to this event described by John O'Donovan in the Ordinance Survey Letters of 1839, as shown below:

Monaoile O Dochartaigh and his men left the Inishowen Peninsula and moved into County Mayo in Connought in the mid-16th century.   The place where they resettled became known as "Baile Monaoile".  (Baile is the Irish word for home or settlement.)  The name was eventually Anglicized and became "Ballymonnelly", a townland that still exists in Kiltane Parish in County Mayo.

Monaoile O Dochartaigh's male descendants began using the name O Monaoile (O meaning "from").  O Monaoile was anglicized to O'Monnelly or O'Munnelly and the O was eventually dropped.

DNA evidence from project members with County Mayo roots supports a common ancestor who lived about 350 - 400 years ago.  The surname had several variant spellings in Mayo that were likely the result of however the parish priest decided to spell what he was hearing.   According to various authorities on Irish surnames, the name Munnelly or Monnelly exists almost nowhere else except County Mayo and is considered uncommon even there.

Another possible origin of the name in Ireland was from the name Maonghaile (or Magonagle as it was said in Gaelic).  There are several verbal stories to support this possibility. Below is an example:

The root name in Ireland is O'Maongaile, which means wealth and valour.  There are two coats of arms for the family, the Irish Coat of Arms is Gilt and Black with three Dolphins. There is also a Scottish Monley Sept that is related to the Irish Monleys.  The name is spelled several ways other than the Gaelic manner, such as Monley, Monnelly, Munlley, Munley, Mnly, Munly, and the anglicized Manley.

By the way, the O' in the Gaelic spelling of O'Maongaile means "descendant of Maongal" (like the professor in Harry Potter).   Some of the lesser spellings includes O'Monhily and O'Monnilly.  According to Thomas Wolfe, an authority on Irish names, the Monleys were found chiefly in Donegal and North Connacht.

So far, there is no DNA evidence to either support or reject this story.

During and immediately following the waves of Irish immigration to the US, UK, and Australia in the mid-1800s, the original surname was often changed to Manley in the immigrants' new countries.

English Manley/Manly ancestral lines appear to originate about 1100 AD in and around the Villages of Manley in Cheshire and Devonshire, England.   It is generally accepted that the village place-name was originally derived from the Old English word "moene" which means common or shared, and "leah", which means wood or clearing

Surnames didn't exist much before ~1100 A. D.  They became more common after William I, the Conqueror,ordered a survey of all people, properties, and chattel in his domain.   The Domesday Book contains the results of this survey.   These original surnames were a sort of descriptor of the person.   The surnames used often pertained to where someone lived, a physical trait of the person, or a skill or trade.

Whether the Manley surname in England came from the village names or has another origin is unknown.  This surname is still found most frequently around the Villages of Manley in Devonshire and Cheshire.  Manley lines in Northern Ireland may have come from either English Plantation owners who were settled there in the 16th and 17th centuries or from the original Gaelic Clans.  Individual lines need to be researched to make any determinations for specific members.

In general, the plantations were the result of the confiscation of land by the Government of England.  This land generally had been previously occupied by the Gaelic Clans, who were removed, and the land was then given to settlers ("planters") from England and Scotland.  In many cases these settlers were former British soldiers who were given the land in return for their prior service, just as Revolutionary War patriots in the USA were given land warrants in the newly-formed states following the defeat of the British

In Northern Ireland, this land was principally in the provinces of Munster and Ulster.

Y-DNA Haplogroups
There are "Munleys" and "Manleys" (and variant spellings) in all corners of the world today that show both the English and Irish origins.  Both the English and Irish descendants are usually in the
y-DNA haplogroup R1b1a2 which is by far the most common haplogroup in western Europe.  It reaches frequencies of over 90 percent in Wales, Ireland and the Basque region of Spain.

There are also Munleys and Manleys in y-DNA Haplogroups R1a, I, and J.

The Munleys and Manleys in the County Mayo Group all share a unique y-DNA Haplogroup called R-M222.  The R-M222 branch of the Y-DNA tree is defined by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) called M222.   This diagnostic marker is associated with many individuals whose roots lie in the counties of Northwest Ireland,Ulster and Lowland Scotland.  In no county is this pattern the dominant DNA profile, but in some counties (Donegal in NW Ireland, for example) it approaches 20 percent.  See R-M222 Haplogroup Project for more information.

Haplogroup R1a is the largest group in much of an area stretching from eastern Europe to India.  It is not common in western Europe outside of Scandinavia.  For that reason, this group is usually thought to denote Viking heritage when found in the British Isles.

Haplogroup I originated approximately 25,000 years ago among the people of Eastern Africa and/or Southern Europe.  It represents nearly one-fifth of the population of Europe.  It can be found in the majority of present-day European populations; the greatest density to be found is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, Sardinia, Denmark and Germany.  The haplogroup is almost non-existent outside of Europe, suggesting that it arose in Europe.  As the ice receded after the last glacial maximum, Haplogroup I spread into Northern Europe.  There is some speculation the initial dispersion of this population corresponds to the diffusion of the Gravettian culture, named after the archeological site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied.

Haplogroup I1 is a northwestern European group with its highest percentages in Sweden and Norway,though it is quite common in most of the Germanic speaking areas.  In Britain, it is the second largest group (after R1b) and is usually associated with the Anglo-Saxon migration or with the later Viking invasions.

Haplogroup I2a is a European group which is found primarily in the Balkans.   It reaches its zenith in Bosnia where it constitutes over 40% of the population.  The most likely source for this haplogroup in Britain would seem to be from Thracian, Dacian or Illyrian soldiers in the Roman army.

Haplogroup J has two main branches, J1 and J2.  Both are found in Eastern African populations.   It also spread into Europe and the Indian subcontinent during the Bronze Age.  J2 lineages originated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent.   J1 lineages may have a more southern origin, as they are more often found in the Levant region, other parts of the Near East, and North Africa, with a sparse distribution in the southern Mediterranean flank of Europe, and in Ethiopia.

Haplogroup J2b is most common in the Middle East and reaches its highest percentages in Turkey.   In Europe, the largest J2b populations are in Greece, Albania and Italy.  This haplogroup is rare in Britain where it could represent remnants of eastern Mediterranean troops stationed on the island during the Roman occupation.  It also might indicate Jewish heritage.

Mitochondrial (mtDNA) Haplogroups
Specific mitochondrial haplogroups are typically found in different regions of the world, and this is due to unique population histories.  In the process of spreading around the world, many populations with their special mitochondrial haplogroups became isolated, and specific haplogroups concentrated in geographic regions.  Today, certain haplogroups have been identified that originated in Africa, Europe, Asia, the islands of the Pacific, the Americas, and even particular ethnic groups.  Of course, haplogroups that are specific to one region are sometimes found in another, but this is due to recent migration.

Mitochondrial Haplogroups A,B, C, D, and X are Native American mitochondrial haplogroups.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup A has its highest frequencies are among Indigenous peoples of the Americas.  Its largest overall population is in East Asia, and its greatest variety (which suggests its origin point) is in East Siberia.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup B is the only mitochondrial haplogroup whose distribution encompasses both sides of the Pacific Ocean, the Americas, Polynesia, the Philippines, Japan, China,Indonesia, Thailand, and has even been found in Madagascar.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup C is believed to have arisen somewhere between the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal some 60,000 years before present.  The sublades C1b, C1c, C1d, and C4c are found in the first people of the Americas.  C1 is the most common.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup D is found in Northeast Asia including Siberia.  It is also found quite frequently in Central Asia, where it makes up the second most common mtDNA clade (after H). Mitochondrial haplogroup D also appears at a low frequency in northeastern Europe and southwestern Asia.   D4 is also frequent to Koreans according to latest study.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup F is most frequent in southeast Asia.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup H is a predominantly European haplogroup that participated in a population expansion beginning approximately 20,000 years ago.  Today, about 30% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe are classified as haplogroup H.  It is rather uniformly distributed throughout Europe suggesting a major role in the peopling of Europe, and descendant lineages of the original haplogroup H appear in the Near East as a result of migration.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup HV is a primarily European haplogroup that underwent an expansion beginning approximately 20,000 years ago.  It is more prevalent in western Europe than in eastern Europe, and descendant lineages of the original haplogroup HV appear in the Near East as a result of more recent migration.  One of the dominant mitochondrial haplogroups in Europe, haplogroup HV pre-dates the occurrence of farming in Europe.

Principally a European haplogroup, mitochondrial haplogroup I is detected at very low frequency across west Eurasia with slightly greater representation in northern and western Europe.  Given its wide, but sparse, distribution, it is likely that it was present in those populations that first colonized Europe.

The mitochondrial haplogroup J contains several sub-lineages.  The original haplogroup J originated in the Near East approximately 50,000 years ago.

Haplogroup J*, the root lineage of haplogroup J, is found distributed throughout Europe, but at a relatively low frequency.  Haplogroup J* is generally considered one of the prominent lineages that was part of the Neolithic spread of agriculture into Europe from the Near East beginning approximately 10,000 years ago.  Within Europe, sub-lineages of mitochondrial haplogroup J have distinct and interesting distributions.

Haplogroup J1b is found distributed in the Near East and southern Iberia, and may have been part of the original colonization wave of Neolithic settlers moving around the Mediterranean 6000 years ago or perhaps a lineage of Phoenician traders.  Within haplogroup J1b, a derivative lineage haplogroup J1b1 has been found in Britain and another sub-lineage detected in Italy.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup K is found through Europe, and contains multiple closely related lineages indicating a recent population expansion.   The origin of haplogroup K dates to approximately 16,000 years ago, and it has been suggested that individuals with this haplogroup took part in the pre-Neolithic expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup L1 is found in West and Central sub-Saharan Africa.  Some of its branches (L1d, L1k, L1a, L1f) were recently re-classified into haplogroup L0 as L0d,L0k, L0a and L0f.  Haplogroup L1 arose with Mitochondrial Eve and haplogroup L0 is an offshoot.  The descendants of haplogroup L1 are also African haplogroups L2 and L3, the latter of which gave rise to all non-African haplogroups.  Haplogroup L1 is believed to have first appeared in Africa approximately 150,000 to 170,000 years ago.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup L2 is native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is present in approximately one third of all people.  It is believed to have arisen approximately 70,000 years ago from the line of haplogroup L1.

Mitochondrial Sub-haplogroup L3e is wide spread in Africa. It is the most common of the L3 sub-haplogroups, accounting for just over one-third of all L3-type sequences and is the most common sub-haplogroup within the Bantu-speaking populations of east Africa.  L3e is suggested to be associated with a central African/Sudanese origin about 45,000 years ago and is also the most common mitochondrial haplogroup L3 subclade amongst African Americans, Afro-Brazilians and Caribbeans.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup M comprises the first wave of human migration out of Africa, following an eastward route along southern coastal areas.   Descendant populations belonging to mitochondrial haplogroup M are found throughout East Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Melanesia, though almost none have been found in Europe.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup N may represent another migration out of Africa, heading northward instead of eastward.  Shortly after the migration, the large R mitochondrial haplogroup split off from the N.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup R consists of two subgroups defined on the basis of their geographical distributions, one found in southeastern Asia and Oceania and the other containing almost all of the modern European populations.  Haplogroup N(xR), i.e. mtDNA that belongs to the N group but not to its R subgroup, is typical of Australian aboriginal populations, while also being present at low frequencies among many populations of Eurasia and the Americas.  Its arrival in Europe around 35,000 years ago coincided with the end of the Neandertals.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup T is common in eastern and northern Europe and found as far east as the Indus Valley and the Arabian Peninsula.  It is considered one of the main genetic signatures of the Neolithic expansion.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup U has a wide distribution.  Most in mtDNA haplogroup U come from a group that moved northwest out of the Near East. Today they are found in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean at frequencies of almost 7% of the population.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup V tends to be restricted to western, central, and northern Europe.  It is found in 12% of Basques and is thought to have been established within the European refuge during the last Ice Age.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup X is found in Europe and Asia, and is believed to have migrated to the Americas about 15,000 years ago, making up a very small component of the Native American population as in the Ojibwa, Sioux, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, and Navajo tribes.