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2,390 study surnames with us
and a further 6,077 variant names.

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About the study

The One-Name Study for the surname LOONEY was officially initiated in April 2016.  This was accomplished through the registration of the Looney surname with the Guild of One-Name Studies.  This One-Name Study was initiated after many years of conducting family history and genealogical research by myself and many others, research that has been conducted over about one hundred years time.  Hopefully this surname registration, coupled with the sharing of historical and family data, will benefit future generations of Looney family researchers.

Variant names

The spelling of the surname seems to have evolved over time, most likely the result of differences in the way a record keeper thought they heard the name pronounced.  There is at least one variation which was adopted as the result of two cousins who lived in the same place at the same time with the same first and last names.  One cousin kept the surname spelling of “Looney” while the other adopted the surname spelling of “Luna”.  While this variation may have resolved the two cousin's problems with court, property and other official records, the spelling does not in any way reflect a family relationship with the Luna family from Spain or Mexico.

Name origin

The Looney surname has its origins on the Isle of Man, an island which lies in the sea between Ireland, Scotland and England.  Looney is an ancient Manx surname and it comes from MacGillowney, the Manx form of the early Gaelic name MacGiolla Dhomhnaigh, “the son of Giolla Dhomhnaigh”.  In early times it is found on the Isle of Man, parish of Lonan and in 1500 a Patick MacGillony or MacGillewney owned land in a part of the parish called Amogary.  This land was long known as Ballalooney or Ballalewney, ‘The homestead of Looney’.

Historical occurrences of the name

The Looney surname, along with its variants, can still be found on the Isle of Man.  Like any country where the eldest son almost always inherited his father’s property, younger sons either had to learn a new trade or seek his fortunes elsewhere.  In the ‘olden days’ many of these younger Looney sons left the Island to seek out their fortunes.  While some went to Ireland, England or the newly discovered America’s, some went to sea while others went around the world to settle in New Zealand and Australia.  One prolific branch of the Looney family arrived in America as early as 1724 where they show up in Rent Rolls and property documents.  Descendants from this one branch of the Looney family now number in the thousands.  In the mean time other individuals and families bearing the Looney surname have continued to immigrate to America and other locations around the world.

Name frequency

A quick search of the Family Search database for the census year 1881 for England and Wales reflects 1,403 entries for Looney, 189 of those listed as living on the Isle of Man.  A search of the 1880 census of the United States shows there were 5,734 entries for Looney and a search of the 1900 census for the United States reveals that only twenty years later there were 11,058 entries found for the surname Looney.

Distribution of the name

While the surname Looney continues to show up on the Isle of Man and within England and Wales, it is completely understandable why the Looney surname seems to have exploded in the United States.  The Looney family came to America early on while it was still a colony of England.  The Looney families were known to be explorers and frontiersmen in the new world.  As the American British Colonies expanded and moved west, so did the Looney families.  Later when the colonies became the United States, the Looney families continued to expand and settle those new territories as they became a part of the United States eventually spreading the surname all across North America.


There is no shortage of data on the wide spread Looney family.  Looney families can be found in the earliest Isle of Man parish records which were kept for recording birth, marriage, burial (death) and estate probate.  These parish records begin on the Isle of Man in the early 1600s.  The Looney family is also found in the early records of colonial America and they continue to show up to the present time in all sorts of birth, marriage, death, burial, probate, pension and property records in the United States.  There is virtually an army of Looney family researchers out there all around the world who are mining this data and building family trees in an attempt to discover their family roots.


Y-DNA test results have proven that the descendants of the Robert Looney of Colonial America share a common ancestor with other Looney test subjects who can trace their Looney family through historical records back to the Isle of Man.  Historical records that would reflect exactly when or where Robert Looney actually arrived in Colonial America have not been found to date.  The earliest records of Robert Looney in Colonial America are dated 1724.

The Looney surname Y-DNA project can be found at:


The Looney One-Name Study website can be found at:

A Looney email discussion list can be found at: