This was a branch from the Milesian stock from which the present noble family of O'NEILL claims descent, THE ROYAL HOUSE OF ULSTER.
HUGH BOY O'NEILL, from whom the territories called the Claneboys, in counties Down and Antrim, received their name, grandson of HUGH METH, king of Ulster, 1122, recovered those lands from the English (which had been wrested from his family at the invasion during the reign of HENRY II), and his descendants enjoyed them until the reign of JAMES I.
When a portion was conquered by force of arms from the O'Neills, more purchased by JAMES I by them, and some part left in their possession, which has descended to the O'Neills of Shane's Castle.
His Majesty, when he instituted the order of Baronets, had chiefly in view the subduing of the clan O'Neill in Ulster, and the Ulster hand ~ the Red Hand of O'Neill ~ was given as a badge to the order.
BRYAN O'NEILL, in consideration of his gallant services at the battle of Edgehill, was created a baronet by CHARLES I, in 1643.
Sir Bryan married Jane Finch, of the family of the 1st Earl of Nottingham, and dying in 1670, was succeeded by his son,
SIR BRYAN O'NEILL, 2nd Baronet, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench in Ireland, in the reign of JAMES II.
He married Mary, sister of Christopher, 10th Baron Dunsany, and dying in 1694, was succeeded by his eldest son,
SIR HENRY O'NEILL (c1674-1759), 3rd Baronet, who married firstly, Mary, daughter of Mark Bagot, of Mount Arran, County Carlow, by whom he had an only son,
RANDAL, his heir.He wedded secondly, Rose, daughter of Captain James Brabazon, son of Sir Anthony Brabazon, and nephew of William, 1st Earl of Meath, and had issue,
Brabazon;Sir Henry was succeeded by his eldest son,
SIR RANDAL O'NEILL, 4th Baronet, of Upper Claneboys, County Down, who married Mrs Margaret Tompkins, by whom he had a son, William, and a daughter, Rachel; and thus terminates any recorded account of the family.
The baronetcy was presumed to be extinct; but a person emerged calling himself
SIR FRANCIS O'NEILL (c1730-99),
who lived a very poor man on the estate of the Viscount Netterville at Dowth, near Drogheda, from whom he rented a small farm at a quarter of its value; but, even unable to pay that, he was dispossessed. This unfortunate descendant of royalty had the patent of baronetcy in his possession, but whether he was in the line of descent does not appear.
Baronetcies have been frequently assumed in Ireland by parties who had no claim whatsoever, but being collateral relations of a deceased and extinct baronet, may have discovered the patent among his papers.
One of the sons of Sir Francis was employed at a small inn near Duleek, in the capacity of "boots and ostler" - sic transit gloria mundi.
AS TO aristocratic kinsmen abandoning such claimants, again we may cite Burke's account of the support, moral and financial, given to the above mentioned Sir Francis O'Neill by his distant Protestant kinsman John, 1st Viscount O'Neill:
In that humble cottage the aged and poverty stricken baronet was visited in May, 1798 by John, the first Viscount O'Neill, and his two sons, Charles and John, the late Earl and the last Viscount ... for John, the first Lord O'Neill, princely in mind and he was exalted in station, never turned his face from a poor relation.
BACKWESTON HOUSE was once the residence of Sir Bryan O'Neill, 1st Baronet.
- Sir Bryan O'Neill, 1st Baronet (d. 1670)
- Sir Bryan O'Neill, 2nd Baronet (d. 1694)
- Sir Henry O'Neill, 3rd Baronet (c. 1674-1759)
- Sir Randall O'Neill, 4th Baronet (d. 1779)
- Sir William O'Neill, 5th Baronet (c. 1754-1784)
- Sir Francis O'Neill, 6th Baronet (c. 1730-1799)