COLONSAY KINDRED No. 2, December 2014 contents:

Welcome and introduction, by Kevin Byrne (Editor and host)

Kinales MacPhee by Kevin Byrne

McNeill Photographic Archive: BETTY DUNCAN by Kevin Byrne

The McNeill Images - a link to a dedicated page

Dr. George Craig, grandson of Duncan McNeill, Lord Colonsay? by Roderick Drummond

Alexander Carstairs McNeill 1834 - 1909 by Roy Holderness

Laird Archibald McNeill and his nephew Lieut. Archibald McNeill

Link to Laird Archibald's (lengthy) Will

References to Pedigree of Roderick McNeill; and of the Colonsay McNeill Lairds

Disclaimer - Note to readers and contact details

Welcome to "Colonsay Kindred"

As may be obvious, this bi-monthly newsletter is an attempt to engage with people interested in Colonsay Family History. It has a sister publication, also bi-monthly, called Colonsay History, which will restrict itself to general history and biography etc. (Issues are online at www.colonsayhistory.info ).

It seems that this issue deals mostly with McNeills, rather by accident than design; although the effort to identify the McNeill cartes de visite is a definite ongoing project. This issue was delayed since the editor suffered a bereavement in November and has also been without Internet access since 24th November (BT has promised to send an engineer on 14th January). Please be assured that all Colonsay families are of interest and submissions, queries and correspondence for publication will be welcome. Please contact byrne[at]colonsay.org.uk



Kinales MacPhee


This picture was kindly lent to me by Donald “Gibbie” MacNeill, and it shows Kinales MacPhee whose father “Dugald of the Point” lived in the cottage which once stood in the southwest corner of Baile Iochdracht, the faint ruins of which can still be traced. Dugald served in the Peninsular War on board HMS “Ajax” and is recorded as “Dugall McDuff aged 30 born in Collansey” with rank of Able Seaman on 1st March 1805, ship's pay book number SB 383 (Reference ADM 36/16538). He was at Trafalgar and received a pension when he was paid-off and came home.

I have slightly forgotten the story, perhaps can be reminded? I think that Dugall served alongside a sailor from Scandinavia (Norway?) called Kinales and who did him a major service (saved his life?); he named his son in tribute. Funnily enough, Kinales was born in Jura ca. 1817, but in Colonsay he lived with his wife and three children as “herd” at Balnahard. He married "Flory McNeill" in Colonsay, May 31 1845.

His gravestone reads: Kinales McPhee died 28th October 1881 aged 64; his wife Flora McNeill died 12 April 1906 aged 90; their sons Alexander died 26 Sep. 1878 aged 30; Gilbert died Aug 1863 aged 4; their grandchildren Alexander Stroyan and Lily Nora McPhee who died young. [note: William Stroyan was the name of the tenant farmer of Machrins]. In 1871 Kinales' daughter, Anabella, was recorded in the census as being 19 years old, with brothers Dugald (21), John (17) and Angus (29); presumably Anabella moved away as she does not appear in the 1881 census. On census day 1881 Kinales was living with his wife Flora and daughter Margaret (25 years) in Kiloran; maybe Margaret married Stroyan, who was in Machrins by 1881, 32 yrs, unmarried.

As for HMS Ajax, it was “ the habit of the time for a Royal Navy ship about to go into action to dispose of over the side any equipment which either hindered her from clearing for action or would be an impediment to her fighting efficiency. One record shows that preparatory to the Battle of Trafalgar Ajax threw overboard 6 wooden ladders, 10 cot frames, 6 stanchions, a grinding stone, a set of berth screens, 4 weather sails, 30ft of copper funnelling for the galley stove plus many other items.” For more details see http://www.hmsajaxatcrete.com.au/2013/10/the-ships-named-ajax-their-battle-honors.html

Descendants of this family are known – perhaps if any of them see this photo they could add some detail?


The McNeill Photographic Archive: BETTY DUNCAN

In the first edition of this newsletter, October 2014, a magnificent set of early photographs was reproduced, believed to relate to members of the McNeill family, lairds of Colonsay. It is hoped that we may be able to identify the subjects, although to date there has been no response from any reader. This collection is too important to ignore and therefore “new” information will appear here as it becomes available; the background notes are in Issue # 1 and here as a LINK to the actual photographs. Please do get in touch if you can help either in the identification or by correcting or improving any notes given here.

A possible identification : the second image on the page, which appears in the top row, depicts a young lady, and has an inscription on the back: “ Betty Duncan , for Mr. McNeill April 1887”. Clearly this is a note by the photographic studio, indicating who has ordered or is to collect the item. The studio is that of Marshall Wane, Edinburgh, a fashionable establishment of high repute. The subject is a confident and attractive young lady, wearing a simple double-strand pearl choker.


Initial research based upon the Edinburgh census of 1881 and 1891 was inconclusive, partly because it was hard to gauge the young lady's age and partly because of complete ignorance as to her background. However, on p. 130 of Memoir of Sir John McNeill , G.C.B. we read of the death of his cherished sister, Mary, in November 1829: “Few human beings have ever possessed qualities more endearing than my beloved Mary. I never knew a heart that teemed with warmer feelings of affection...” Mary had been the eldest daughter and fourth child of her parents, and from the Memoir one sees that her married name was Duncan . She will have been born in the late 1790s and therefore died at a very early age; nonetheless it seems reasonable to surmise that she had borne a son, surnamed Duncan, and that Betty Duncan was his daughter. The Old Parish Register shows: “Nov 5 1825: James Jonston Duncan & Mary McNeill and was married by the Revd. Mr. McTavish from Islay the eight day of Novr. 1825 years at Kiloran”

This entry is unlike normal entries, as is the introduction of an outside minister and the ceremony being held at Kiloran, so this is definitely the wedding of John's sister. Can we trace any line of descent? There may well be somebody alive today who would be delighted to have a copy of Betty Duncan's portrait. The “Mr. McNeill” who was to collect the photograph is as yet unknown, but it would seem likely to have been Sir John himself, since he is known to have taken an avuncular interest in members of his extended family and would have had a special care in connection with the descendants of his bitterly lamented sister. There seems to be no memory of the "Duncan" surname in Colonsay today.

Final thoughts: 1. Could the photograph dated 1887 have been a copy or later print of an image originally made at an earlier date? Say 1855 or so? In other words, could Betty be Mary's daughter?

2. Mary had a sister, Anne who became Mrs. Ainsworth and who died September 1829 – is it possible that one or more of her descendants feature in the McNeill album? Can one identify the correct Ainsworth family?


Dr. Craig, grandson of Duncan McNeill, Lord Colonsay?

The following information relates to one of the persons believed to have been descended from Lord Colonsay (Duncan McNeill), reputedly his grandson. One or two other possible descendants are also mentioned from time and information for publication would be welcome.

DR. GEORGE CRAIG - by Roderick Drummond

Dr George Craig was born on 10 February 1868 in Edinburgh, the second son of James Craig, a draper, and his wife Euphemia, nee Bannerman. He was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and Edinburgh University, graduating as Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery in 1890, as well as being awarded a gold medal in surgery. About three years later he emigrated to New Zealand, and stayed with his uncle the Reverend William Bannerman in Roslyn, Dunedin before taking up a position at Seacliff Mental Hospital, a few miles north of Dunedin, after being entered on the New Zealand medical register in February 1894. He was qualified as a psychiatrist and eye specialist, although much of his career was as a general practitioner.

In March 1897 he and his brother William, who had followed him to New Zealand, became medical officers in the Cook Islands, after a period as surgeons on a Pacific Island ship. Both were appointed as Justices of the Peace, and George was elected to the Cook Islands Parliament in 1898 as member for the islands of Atiu and Mitiaro. In addition, he was deputy British Resident to Colonel Walter Gudgeon, his future father-in-law, while William was also quarantine officer and registrar of the High Court and the Land Court, of which Colonel Gudgeon was the Judge.

Early in 1900 Dr Craig volunteered for service in the Boer War, as a trooper in the Rough Riders, but on 14 February 1900 transferred to the Medical Corps with the rank of Surgeon-Captain. In June 1901 he returned from South Africa to the Cook Islands, but left for New Zealand later in the year to take up a position as surgeon to the Waihi Goldmining Company, at Waitekauri. On 19 March 1902 he married Hilda Johnstone Gudgeon at Auckland, and later moved to Mackaytown, and then to Karangahake about a year later. The year 1906 saw a further move, to Waihi, where the growing family remained until Dr Craig enlisted for war service in 1914.

Dr Craig carried on a general practice in addition to his employment with the mining company, and when there was an accident down a mine, he would never allow an injured man to be moved until he had seen him, but always went down himself whatever the risk. He was a blunt no-nonsense Scot with no inhibitions about saying exactly what he thought, which got him into a certain amount of controversy during the miners' strike of 1912, since he had little sympathy with the tactics of the extremist "Red Fed" faction, although he was very concerned about the inadequate working and living conditions of many of his patients.

Dr Craig's family moved to Devonport after leaving Waihi, while he joined the 3rd Auckland Regiment as a captain, being soon promoted to major. After beginning war service in Egypt, he embarked for Gallipoli, where he was wounded later in 1915 and then invalided back to New Zealand. He left to return to the front in November 1916, shortly after the birth of his youngest son Elsdon, and saw service in France and Belgium , being promoted to lieutenant-colonel in command of the 1st New Zealand Field Ambulance in October 1917, holding this rank until retiring from the reserve of officers in 1932. Early in 1919 he was awarded a D.S.O. for distinguished services in France and Flanders in 1917 and 1918, after having been mentioned in despatches three times. He arrived back in New Zealand in May 1919.

Shortly after his demobilisation in 1919, Dr Craig took up practice in Morrinsville, at first with Dr Alfred Bernstein for a few months, and then on his own account until his retirement in 1945. He was elected to the Morrinsville Borough Council in 1921, his major concern being shortcomings in the municipal water supply, and from time to time he presided as a Justice of the Peace in the local Magistrate's Court, on one occasion fining the resident police constable one pound for allowing his horse to stray. He lived on a property of approximately 20 acres at the eastern end of Thames Street, most of which is now Campbell Park, on which his sons Colin and Gordon ran a few cows during their schooldays as a source of extra pocket money. During the depression of the 1930s he organised collections of surplus fruit for distribution to needy residents. He travelled a wide area to attend to patients, over very indifferent roads, even as far as places such as Patetonga, working very long hours if necessary. He was a keen motorist, having acquired his first car, a Humber, in about 1908, this being followed by a Daimler which he used for the rest of his time at Waihi, having previously travelled long distances on horseback when required. After moving to Morrinsville, he owned a succession of Maxwells, Chryslers, and Fords. He enjoyed doing maintenance work on his various cars, but had to be careful to keep his hands in first-class condition for carrying out surgery. His consulting rooms were in the National Bank building in Thames Street.

During the Second World War he was a member of the Pensions Appeal Board in Hamilton and an examiner for the Morrinsville Medical Board, and was very concerned with the effects of malnutrition during the depression on some of the recruits that he was called upon to examine for war service. He wished that he were still of an age to be eligible to go overseas, and could not even think of retiring, with so many younger doctors away at the war.

Early in 1945 Dr Craig suffered a stroke, almost certainly brought on through the volume of work in his practice together with his war work, and in October 1945 he and Mrs Craig moved to Ellerslie, Auckland, where he died on 17 June 1947, never having fully recovered from the effects of the stroke. In spite of a somewhat gruff manner on occasion, he had a sense of humour with a predilection for puns and practical jokes, and a dedicated attitude to his profession, never sparing himself in any way.


Alexander Carstairs McNeill 1834 - 1909 by Roy Holderness

Alexander McNeill [the brother of Sir John Carstairs McNeill V.C. – KB] was born in 1834 in Bow, London [together with four siblings, he was orphaned in 1850 - KB]. He was educated for the army and in due course joined the Royal Bengal Engineers. As a captain in that branch of the service he served through the Indian Mutiny. In 1858 he married Mary Bryce Leighton, daughter of Henry John Leighton and Mary Anne Bryce. (Mary was born in Calcutta in 1839). Some years after the Mutiny had been quelled Captain McNeill found it necessary, because of his wife's health, to leave India and he redeemed his commission and emigrated to New Zealand with his brother Malcolm, (Sir Malcolm McNeill, of Edinburgh ). The two brothers took up (and named) the Ardlussa Estate in Southland on the banks of the Mataura River, and though Malcolm returned to Scotland, Alexander carried on the estate until 1879 when, bankrupted by flood and rabbits, he moved to Whanganul where he lived as a dairy farmer until his death in 1909. Upon the death of his brother, Sir John Carstairs McNeill, Alexander became the senior member of the family; and after Alexander's own death his son, Alexander Carstairs McNeill (b.1863) succeeded to that honour. Alexander Snr. was survived by five sons and five daughters. The following article is rather more informative and is taken from a series called " The Conquerors - Saga of the Stations ", written by "The Wanderer" and published on 28 January 1935 in "Southland Times".

Captain Alexander Carstairs McNeill and his brother, Malcolm, acquired Ardlussa, a station situated on the banks of the Mataura river, Southland, very shortly after the Maori Wars had died down. They were both soldiers who hailed from a family of distinguished warriors whose daring deeds and adventures are oft-times mentioned in Highland history and legend. Their brother, Sir John McNeill, V.C., was at that period equerry to her Majesty Queen Victoria, and before coming to New Zealand , Captain Alexander McNeill had belonged to the Royal Engineers. He and his brothers had fought through the tragic Indian Mutiny. He had a large family which are now married and settled throughout New Zealand , and he was one of the pioneer-squatters who fought and failed in early Southland. He became a run-holder when the Great Slump and the Old Man flood were ahead of him, and when scab, pluer, and the "Doze" were killing off the sheep by the thousands. Then came the reign of the rabbits and with all these evils to contend with Ardlussa did not prove . a . paying . proposition.

Captain McNeill was a big man in every way - in stature and in mind, and he was rightly proud of his illustrious family and his Highland blood. Often he could be seen, striding along over his vast property, or mounted on a horse, dressed in Highland costume fashioned from the McNeill plaid, and many a queer story is told concerning him; how a man going to work at Benmore station had a great difficulty in finding his way there, and on being asked why he had not made enquiries at other stations replied: "Well, I did go up to one house a long way back, but I saw a huge woman on the verandah with a very short skirt and bared knees, and she was actually smoking. Will, I did not like the look of her, so I came away." This so-called woman was Captain McNeill in . his . kilts.

The Invercargill Land Office supplies the following information concerning Ardlussa and the transfer from Captain McNeill to Robert Chapman, who held the homestead block until Ardlussa run was transformed into the Ardlussa settlement:

Ardlussa - acquired in 1867 by Robert Wilson deceased, and acquired in 1869 by Alexander and Malcolm McNeill. Acquired by Australian Mortgage, Land and Finance Company in 1879 and acquired by Chapman in 1884. Run 394 . - . area . 22,500 . acres.

Captain McNeill, like other squatters, imported rabbits and bred them as a hobby, and it is a fact that he sacked a man he employed for the great crime of shooting one of his pets. When the Old Man flood came down and swept over the land, Captain McNeill was heard to remark that there was no doubt what-so-ever that this flood would cause a great deal of havoc but he added "If it will drown some of these damned rabbits, it will do more good than harm." In an old hotel called the Pyramid many men were sitting on the raised veranda, watching the muddy waters swirl past and, with rakes and sticks, were hauling in rabbits by the score as they were swept by in the raging flood. Every time they succeeded in making a good haul, it was drinks all round, shouted for by the lucky angler. The old Pyramid Hotel has long since gone from the land, but there still remain a few of the men who remember and repeat the great times and merry meetings which would take place there. Among the men who knew Ardlussa and the surrounding district in the auld days is Mr S Stevens, of Mossburn, one-time shepherd at Ardlussa, who relates . the . following . narrative:

"I left England for New Zealand in 1874, and arrived at Lyttelton at the end of that year. I first of all settled up near Lake Coleridge , and worked there, but afterwards hearing about Southland, I decided to come down and see this new province. I arrived here in 1877, and obtained work at Ardlussa. I remember that the old residents of Southland were still talking about the Old Man flood of 1863, and telling me that there had never been anything to equal it. But I saw the 1878 Old Man flood, and that was enough for me. Ardlussa was a beautiful place. The house was situated on a spur above the Mataura river; below they had a boat. Captain McNeill would have two gardeners working to beautify his home, and they put in plantations of trees for shelter-belts, orchard and strawberry beds and flower garden. Captain McNeill was a fine upstanding man who had been through the Indian Mutiny, and he and his family were all great riders. He had a splendid horse named Tasman.

"At the station when I was there, was a certain Sergeant McPherson who had been through the Indian Mutiny with Captain McNeill, and on one occasion, when quelling an attack, they had been very hard pressed and had stood back to back to protect each other from the enemy. Sergeant McPherson afterwards became the first schoolteacher in Lumsden. On Ardlussa there were about 20,000 half-bred Merino sheep, and many cattle; but many of the cattle had gone wild. I will remember the great Old Man flood of 1878. The snow started falling in early July, and the thaw did not set in until September. It was really a series of floods from then until well on into October. I used to go for the mail once a week and the snow was breast-high, but before the thaw set in, one of the McNeill children was born, and I had to go all the way to Waikuia for the doctor. A slow journey it was, and when I got there the doctor wondered if we could manage to return to Ardlussa, and we did, though the snow was breast-high on the horses. There were wonderful animals bred in the old days, and they plunged and plodded on, and we eventually arrived at the station in good time. The thaw started with a warm nor'-wester one afternoon in early September, and I remember an old rabbiter telling Captain McNeill that if the wind continued they would have a bigger flood than they had in 1863 by next morning. Captain McNeill said: "Good luck if it's from terrace to terrace, so long as it plays havoc with the rabbits." Next morning from the heights of the Ardlussa homestead all around was a huge inland sea. People reported great catches of rabbits, especially from the veranda of the old Pyramid Hotel where, armed with hooked sticks and rakes and forks, they were scooping up rabbits by the score as the flood waters rushed by. Shortly after this flood went down, we had another flood, and still more, and there was absolutely no hope whatever of saving the sheep.

"In 1879 Captain McNeill disposed of Ardlussa to the Australian Mortgage, Land and Finance Company, and he and his family went down to Invercargill, where they resided for a while at Kenilworth, the old home of the well-known McKellar family. The McNeills afterwards went up north to the Wanganui district, where they remained until the death of both Mrs and Captain McNeill, and now the large family who were at the Ardlussa Station are scattered all over . New . Zealand."

Note: The original Ardlussa, in Jura, had been purchased from John McLean of Loch Buie by Donald McNeill of Colonsay in 1737. It became attached to the Colonsay estate and was included in John McNeill's purchase of 1805. When his son Alexander married, in 1830, John McNeill settled Colonsay upon him, to accompany Gigha which had been gifted by his new father-in-law; Alexander completed the set when he purchased Ardlussa from his father in 1835. Unhappily, the Colonsay part of the estate was by now saddled with enormous and increasing debt so, as soon as his father died, Alexander sold Colonsay to his brother Duncan. Although Duncan had hitherto occupied Ardlussa and had built the present mansion house, ownership of Ardlussa was retained . by . Alexander.

When Alexander, together with his wife and two daughters, was lost in the wreck of the "Orion" in 1850, Ardlussa fell to be administered by trustees, with limited succession to Alexander's nineteen year old son, John Carstairs McNeill. His orphaned siblings included sixteen-year old Alexander and eleven year old Malcolm as well as two others. Things went badly with Ardlussa under the trustees - it failed first as a sheep farm, then as a deer forest, then again under sheep, was then sold in 1854, then re-purchased by the family in 1858 and was only finally sold off in 1874. As far as the youngsters were concerned, it had been lost whilst they were still in their minority and it must have been a heavy blow for the younger Alexander McNeill when he lost the second Ardlussa too, after the disastrous Old Man flood.

Article by Roy Holderness, September 2014

Laird Archibald McNeill, and his nephew Lieut. Archibald McNeill

In an old Victorian graveyard in Richmond, Surrey researcher Angela Hoggarth discovered this stone: In Memory of Archibald McNeill, Lieut. in the Royal Navy, youngest son of Alexr. McNeill Esqr. of Oronsay Argyleshire North Britain who departed this life the 17th day of March 1808 aged 29 years.

In his will, dated 1801, he left everything to his brother John “of Oronsay” i.e. to “the Old Laird” as he was to become. It seems he was staying with his uncle, the current laird, Col. Archibald McNeill (married to Lady Anne, nee Georgina Anna Forbes, daughter of 5 th Earl of Granard). The house in Richmond was a tenancy.

Col. Archibald also left a will, probate 28 Jan 1809, 9 pages long and rather difficult to read (for a while it seemed he had gifted his “socks” but they turned out to be “books”). It seems that this will was a death-bed affair, and the household tenancy and goods were left to his widow. The bulk of the estate seems to have been left to a gallery of titled and influential persons, although the details need some study. He had a daughter, also a son, Rev. George McNeill, sometime curate of Convoy, Donegal. Lady Anne later remarried, to Rev. Anthony Hastings of Kilmacrenan, Donegal. A full transcript is here but for brevity here is a summary of the will:

Will dated 27th February 1808 and proven 28th January 1809, when Francis Earl of Moira and Charles Rivington Broughton were appointed as acting executors.

Archibald McNeill of Richmond in Surrey left to his wife, Lady Anne McNeill nee Anna Georgina Forbes, daughter of George, 5th Earl of Granard, the leasehold interest in their dwelling house at Richmond, together with all the contents. Other specified assets were to be converted into securities and the income was to be divided equally between his wife (for a life interest) and any legitimate child or children. The named executors or “Trustees” were to be Rt. Hon. Francis Earl of Moira, Rt. Hon. George Earl of Granard, Sir James Pulteney, Bart., Major General Duncan Campbell of 91st Regiment, Charles Rivington Broughton of the Secretary of State's Office Esq., and Malcolm McNeill of “Collinson”, Argyll.

The final beneficiaries of the “trusts” established to administer the “personal Estate” seem to be Malcolm McNeill, Capt. Donald McNeill of the 91st Regiment and Charles Rivington Broughton, “in common share”. On the other hand, a reference is made to further unspecified “monies mortgages or governments ffarms lands messuages and xxx estates vested in me upon any trust or by way of mortgage or which I have power to dispose of by this my will with their respective xxx and appurtenances ….”

It seems to have been a deathbed will, which gives very detailed instructions as to financial provisions. One wonders how large, if any, an estate was available for disposal. Colonsay had already been transferred to John McNeill, the nephew; is it possible that some proceeds of that transaction were involved?

Leaving the Colonel aside, Angela Hoggarth concentrated on young Lieutenant Archibald, and from the records concluded that he was born ca. 1778, and joined the navy about August 1791. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 6 September 1797 and was posted to HMS Hawk(e) on 17 January 1798. He was posted to HMS Unicorn on 19 June 1800, and to HMS Ethalion on 8 November 1802 (and still there on 23 February 1805). He was posted to HMS Caesar on 7 March 1807, and died on 17 March the following year.

Roy Holderness discovered details of HMS Caesar. She was built in 1793, Type: 2nd Rate; Armament: 80 (guns?); Disposed of in year: 1821; BM: 2003 tons; Complement: 724. On 2 March 1808 she joined Lord Collingwood's squadron off the island of Maritimo [Marretimo, Sicily?], and on 6 March received news that the French fleet had been at sea for a month, upon which she set sail in search of it. The French fleet returned to Toulon on 10 April and, leaving Vice-admiral Thornborough to blockade Toulon, Lord Collingwood sailed for Gibraltar and Cadiz to support the Spanish patriots. If Lieutenant McNeill died in service, it would have been during the search for the French fleet, but it is of course possible that he was already ashore and perhaps already ailing.

Further research into the career of the senior Archibald McNeill, sometime laird of Colonsay, continues.

Pedigree of Roderick McNeill; Pedigree of the McNeill Lairds of Colonsay.

The Descendants of Roderick McNeill : this is a brilliant site that may assist Colonsay Family History researchers. As ever, it is important to independently check every link in the chain before making any assumptions, but a site as good as this one has clearly been carefully researched and any errors are likely to be only by a slip of the pen. http://www.islandregister.com/mcneill7.html

Pedigree of McNeill Lairds of Colonsay : another amazing site – how on earth do people manage all this research? http://www.clanmacfarlanegenealogy.info/genealogy/TNGWebsite/index.php


  1. Can anyone give any information about Angus McNeill “Captain in the Army” who is memorialised in Oransay on the gravestone of his parents, Malcolm and Barbara?


A note to any readers:

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