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There seem to be two main branches of Looneys and they may not necessarily be related--the Manx and the Irish. To complicate matters, some of the Manx Looneys went to ireland. Then both clans have spread to the rest of the world. The answer to the origin question is l ost in antiquity and probably can never be known. I will be posting a message about the Manx name origins, but the Irish origins are also interesting and I have researched that at one point. I'd love to hear from anyone else on this topic.


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LEWNEY LOONEY on the Isle of Man

Manx is a Gaelic language with many Scandinavian words and influences (invaded, if I remember correctly, about 800 AD).

Pronunciation (according to the book Surnames of the Manks [sic] by Leslie Quilliam, 1996, Manx Heritage Foundation):

Lewney colloquial [ I am not going to try to use the symbols they use]
First syllable: L + A as in Bat + U as in But
Second Syllable: N + E as in Misery
In the modern form (England invaded, I think, about 1400s) Second syllable is N+ I as in Beet

Looney Col
First Syllable: L + U as in Rule
Second Syllable: N + E in Misery
Modern Second Syllable: N + I as in Beet

Earliest Gaelic forms:
Mac Giolla Dhomhmaigh, meaning son of the Lord's Servant O'Luingh, descendant of Luingh (meaning armed)

MacGillowny 1498 Gilowni Mac/M'Lawney Lownye 1540 Loweny 1602 MacLown(e)y 1603 1611 1703 MacLon(e)y 1611 Lownie LEWNEY 1623 LOONEY 1644 Loaney 1673 1680 Loney 1681 Loony 1721 Mylooney 1817 Luney 1829

Spelling did not begin to become standardized until Ben Jonson published his Dictionary in England 1755 (there were earlier dictionaries, but his was the most widely used and much more complete), and in the US Noah Webster's in 1806. It took many years for any kind of standardization to catch on. The Robert Looney line arrived in Philadelphia about 1731, so you can see why many of their documents have many different spellings. Spelling was up to the person writing and could vary with the writer in the same document. Of course, people still can't spell, so spelling is documents is still entered incorrectly.
Wish I knew more about it but I only know what a cousin told me years ago. That we were Manx. She also told me the early spelling of the Looney name was possibly Mac Loughnies and was changed to Looney.
Christine, Some of the Looneys are Irish and some are Manx. My husband is from Robert Looney's line, who emigrated from the Isle of Man to Philadelphia about 1731, then later moved on down to Virginia. If you have not traced your Manx Looneys back to Robert, try to Looney Surname Mailing List on and check the Tilton Manuscript (I have written about both of them here) for tieins. Teresa
I am from the Robert Looney line also. I meant I wish I knew more about the name and how it was originally spelled on the Isle of Mann. I wish I knew where they were from before the Isle of Mann. So many questions. My Looney line migrated down to Virginia, on to Tennessee, then Alabama and finally Missouri. My third great grandfather Isam Looney, born 1775- son of Benjamin, is buried in an old cemetery here in Missouri.
I found this online

The name itself has passed through many forms. According to genealogist David Craine, it is an ancient name in the Isle of Man (thus Manxman or Mansker) and "comes from MacGillowney, the Manx form of the early Gaelic name MacGiolla Dhomhnaigh .... [which was] worn down to MacGillowney, and then to Lowney, Lewney, and Looney." A common torm of the name in American records is Luna.
Craine also reports that in A.D. 1030, "Gilchrist O'Lunigh was Lord of the Conel Moen" (the Isle of Man), and Looney descendant Elsie Stroud cites the name in tax rolls of the Isle of Man in 1050. Craine further reports that "In early times [the name] was found in the Parish of Lonan, and in 1500 a Patrick MacGillony or MacGillewney owned land in a part of the Parish called Amogary," land that was "long known as Ballalooney or Ballalewney" [balla means village].
I'm also from the Robert Looney line - Isam is my 5-g-grandfather. Can you tell me the name and location of the cemetery where he's buried? Also, do you know anything about his wife and her background? I've gotten some really mixed info on her. One account is that she was Native American by the name of Littlefoot / Lightfoot, adopted by a family named Greenway. Can you shed any light on or verify any of this?

I don't know who Isam Looney is, or even which son of Robert he comes from. I suggest you join the Looney Mailing List on where there are many long time Looney researchers who might be able to help. You have to subscribe to the list to send messages. You also need to identify his lineage, since others may know some of your line, but not Isam in particular. It would also be helpful to know his dates, since there might be more than on Isam, or they might spell it differently (Isham?).

Christine, I think I can shed some light on the Rhea lineage. I have been researcing this for years. I am a descendant of Robert and LLewelyn from the Isle of Man from Benjamin. As mentioned by others, there are many spellings of Looney. From what I have gathered, it was often written down phonetically and changed many times. There are some Rheas that married Colemans and Youngs in Tenn. My Great Grandmother lived on Looneys island in Knoxville. I will look up the Reah connection at home let you know what I have. The Tilton book has a lot of information.
Thank you so much. I have often wondered about the origins of Margaret Rhea. I will welcome any information! Benjamin Looney, Sr. was my 4th great grandfather through his son Isam.

hello . i am not related to any of the looney family - directly at least that i have found so far . i have researched my dutch/ french  ancestry quite extensively over the [adt 10 years especially. during that time i have come across the van der loon or van der loonen / van loon , vam lunen , etc. rgw name dates back to at least the 14 to 1600`s in the netherlands possibly before . probable that some branches / or possibly even trees might be related to the dutch . they(some) came to the united states in the early to mid 1600`s & later in the new york state/ long island/ Connecticut vermont areas





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