THE EVOLUTION OF OUR O’DANIEL SURNAME TO DANIEL, DANIELL, AND DANIELS

William O'Daniel was in Stafford County, Province of Virginia, before 1717. He received two Northern Neck land grants, 1717 and 1724, on Accotinck Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River. William was recorded as O'Daniel on his first Northern Neck Land Grant (5-159) and as O'Daniell on the second grant (A-132). William died about 1728 in Stafford County, Virginia, leaving his wife, Frances, three sons, John, William, and James, and three daughters, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Ann, all known from wills, deeds, and court proceedings.

The last known uses of  our O'Daniel surname were in 1807 in the settlement of John O'Daniel's estate in Fairfax County, Virginia and on a deed for William O'Daniel of Kershaw County, South Carolina. 

Part of Stafford County became Prince William County in 1731. Part of Prince William became Fairfax County in 1741. In early Fairfax records, the surname Daniel began mixing into O’Daniel family records.

Daniell Family lore relates a feud between three brothers over finances, possibly over shipping interests. As a result, one brother is said to have changed the spelling of his name so as to no longer be associated with another. The story might be true. Before 1755, William and James began their migration to South Carolina. John lived out his life in Fairfax County, Virginia. Both William and James can be found as Daniell, but James was obviously insistent upon it. In their mother's will of 1755, Frances GLADIN, widow of William O'Daniel, listed her sons as "James DANNELL"... "William DANNELL"... and her executor as "John O'DANNELL." Frances must have known of the feud.

The eldest son, John, used O'Daniel throughout his life, naming himself and his children as O'Daniel in his will of 1798 in Fairfax County, Virginia; even so, on some records he is John Daniel. John's sons dropped the O' in favor of Daniel.

The second son, William (II), and his children are found as O'Daniel in records as late as 1807, but regularly as Daniel and, infrequently, Daniell in South Carolina. William named himself and his children as O'Daniel his will of 1795 in Kershaw County, South Carolina. Incongruously, his tombstone is engraved William Daniel. His children dropped the O’ in favor of Daniel.

The third son, James, changed his surname to Daniell. On 16 August 1757, in Fairfax County, Virginia, after identifying himself as James O'Daniel of the Province of South Carolina, he signed his name four separate times as James Daniell in the indenture and acknowledgments surrounding the sale of 100 acres inherited from his father to Charles Green of Truro Parish. Although James used Daniell, he too is often Daniel in records. James has not been found as O’Daniel in South Carolina. He named himself and his children as Daniell in his Will dated 11 May 1797 in Hancock County, Georgia. His son, Levi, and many of his descendants have continued the spelling as Daniell, but some have lost their second "L".

Toward the late 1800s, the surname Daniels began appearing in isolated family records. Several lines had become Daniels by 1900. Variant spellings are found throughout the lines and individuals' records.

Particularly curious is the use of three surnames in the family of Elijah Leroy DANIELL, 1855 - 1906, of Pulaski County, Georgia. He and his three sons are buried in Bleckley County, Georgia. The gravestones of two sons, buried in Evergreen Baptist Church Cemetery beside their father, are engraved as Elijah Leroy DANIELL, Jr. and William Anderson DANIELS. The gravestone of the third son, buried in the Antioch United Methodist Cemetery, is engraved Jesse Damascus DANIEL.

The assignment of William Daniel of Edgefield County, South Carolina, born 1747 in Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia, as a son of John and grandson of William O'Daniel of Stafford County, Virginia is proven by an indenture recorded in Fairfax County Deed Book Z, wherein John O'Daniel of Fairfax County, Virginia, and his wife Ann, for love and ten dollars, deeded 1000 acres in the County of Fayette and State of Kentucky to their son, William, identified as "William O'Daniel of the County of Edgefield, District of Ninety six and State of South Carolina." The $10 was paid May 13, 1797; witnesses: Robert Ratcliffe, Courtney Askins, Patrick McAtee, and Barton Boswell. Grandson William has not been found as O’Daniel in South Carolina records.

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Unrelated O'Daniel lines: There are at least three other O'Daniel families in the Carolinas and Virginia that may be confused with the William O'Daniel Family of Stafford County.

First, in Stafford/Fairfax County, Virginia in the mid-1700s, there is a Thomas O'Daniel who has not been linked to the William O'Daniel family.

Second, is the family of John O'Daniel who died in Orange County, North Carolina on 16 June 1825. The first mention of the O'Daniel name in Orange County, North Carolina is in 1761. It is said that this O'Daniel line immigrated from Ireland in 1760. They moved into the Laurens County area of South Carolina as early as 1769 and lived near Raeburn's Creek. Other members of this family included William, Henry, Samuel, and Elizabeth O'Daniel. Henry and Elizabeth married into a McDaniel family, and Elizabeth later married James Abercrombie.

Third is Daniel O'Daniel, born in Ireland and died in 1839 in York County, South Carolina. There may well be others, including the Thomas and Joseph O'Daniel families of Maryland. Ref: "Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Orange County, North Carolina," the notes of researchers Bill O'Daniel, Natalie Hughes, Wayne McDaniel, and Junius O'Daniel, Sr., a descendant of the Rev. Joseph O'Daniel of Gaston County, North Carolina.

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Updated: 23 April 2011

Robert Louis Daniell

5th great-grandson of William and Frances O'Daniel of Stafford County, Province of Virginia