KERR FAMILY CHRONICLES

© Christopher Earls Brennen

CHAPTER SEVEN

THE NEILL FAMILY


As far as we can tell, the Neill family has lived in the vicinity of Cookstown, County Tyrone, since the 18th century. The 1666 Hearth Money Rolls for the Barony of Dungannon include Andrew Neall in the townland of Lisnastrane, parish of Clonoe. Lisnastrane is just one mile north of Coalisland. The 1766(?) Hearth Money Roll or list of householders for the parish of Derryloran, includes Matt Neale, a protestant, in the townland of Drumard. Since he is the only Neale or Neill listed for the vicinity of Cookstown, Matt may well be an ancestor. Moreover there have been Neill families in Drumard ever since that time. However our earliest known Neill ancestor, George Neill, seems to have come from the vicinity of Coagh, east of Cookstown.

Area near Cookstown where the Neills lived.

George Neill or Neale, born in the early 1800s, was a labourer living in the vicinity of Coagh and Cookstown, County Tyrone. He married a woman named Mary and, in 1834, at the time of their son Thomas's baptism George and Mary Neil were living in Ballydawley, just northwest of Coagh in the parish of Tamlaght. Later in 1837 when their daughters Mary and Sarah were baptized, they were living in Ballygonny which is just southwest of Coagh also in the parish of Tamlaght. The children of George and Mary Neill:

  1. Thomas Alexander Neill was born on Mar.30, 1834, at Ballydawley which is just northwest of Coagh, County Tyrone. He was baptized in Tamlaght parish church in Ballydawley on Apr.27, 1834. Thomas worked as a labourer and lived in the townland of Clare just east of Cookstown, County Tyrone. On Oct.21, 1862, Thomas ``Neale'' married Sarah Aart in the Parish Church of Derryloran in Cookstown. The marriage certificate lists Thomas Neale as being of full age, a bachelor labourer and resident of Annahavil whose father was George Neale, a farmer. It also lists Sarah as being of full age, a spinster labourer of Killybearn whose father was Thomas Aart, a farmer. Annahavil is about two miles east and slightly north of Cookstown; Killybearn is about a mile due east of Cookstown. Neither Thomas nor Sarah could write and so made their mark on the certificate; this would explain the spelling of Neale. The marriage was witnessed by George Artt and Adam Ward. The Art family of Killybearn is described in Appendix 7A. Thomas and Sarah must have taken up residence in Clare soon after their marriage for their eldest daughter, Sarah, was born there in 1870. They were still living there at the time of their son's marriage in 1893. Sarah's granddaughter, Margaret Neill, recalled that Sarah used to take her on summer holiday to the northern coast of Ulster every year. Family legend has it that Thomas died while harvesting hay; he died prior to 1901 for the census of that year finds the widow Sarah Neill, aged 60, a member of the Church of Ireland and a farmer living in the townland of Clare with her daughter Margaret, aged 24. In the 1911 Census 74-year-old widowed farmer Sarah Neill is listed as living in house #3 in Clare, Cookstown, with her daughter, Margaret. A Sarah Neill aged 79 died on May 26, 1924, and is buried in Cookstown cemetery; this may or may not be our Sarah.

    Marriage certificate of Thomas ``Neale'' and Sarah Aart.

    The children of Thomas Neill and Sarah Art:

    1. William Neill, our ancestor and the eldest child of Thomas Neill, was born about 1865 in the townland of Clare near Cookstown. He is remembered as a tall man. On November 1, 1893, he married Sarah Jane Robinson in the Registrar's Office in Cookstown. On their marriage certificate they are both listed as being of full age. William is described as a labourer living in Clare, parish of Derryloran, and his father is given as Thomas Neill, a labourer. Sarah Jane, who is remembered as Jane, is listed as living in the townland of ``Ballymena'', parish of Derryloran and her father is given as John Robinson, a labourer. Ballymenagh is just to the northeast of Cookstown. The witnesses to the wedding were Robert Thomas Loughrin and Martha Johnston. At the time of the 1901 Census, William and Jane and their family were living at Loughery, just south of Cookstown, where William was working as a 35-year-old coachman and domestic servant, presumably on the Loughery estate. Jane is listed as a 38-year-old housekeeper. The family belonged to the Church of Ireland and both William and Jane are listed as literate. Their children, William, Margaret, James, Thomas and John are also listed as described below. Somewhat later William and Jane must have moved into Cookstown for that is where the family remembers them living. In the 1911 Census, 38-year-old farm servant William Neill and his 43-year-old wife, Jane, are recorded living at house #30 in Millburn Street, Cookstown, with six of their children as indicated below. After the death of William's sister, Margaret, about 1925 they moved out to the family home in Clare. William and Jane had at least 8 children, listed below. It is recalled that William always worked with horses and lived to be a very old man. Doreen thinks she remembers him working with horses in the late 1940s. Sarah Jane died on Oct.14, 1936, at the age of 72 and is buried in Cookstown cemetery. David McCullough registered her death. According the records of the Cookstown cemetary where he is buried, William died on Dec.28, 1950, at the age of 75 though he must have been 85. He died at the home of Samuel and Sadie Allen in Derrywinnen near Coalisland. The children of William Neill and Sarah Jane Robinson:

      1. William Neill was born about 1893 and is listed in the 1901 Census as a 7-year-old boy living with his parents on the Loughery estate just south of Cookstown. In the 1911 Census, 17-year-old mill worker William Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with his parents and siblings. William became a serjeant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army) in India. He fought in the 1914-18 war and was at one time stationed at Pune, India. He must have returned to County Tyrone where he married Elizabeth McFarland of Gortin (Doreen remembers her as a sweet little woman) and settled in Gortgonis, Coalisland. William died of cancer on Apr.22, 1945, at the age of 51 and was given a military funeral in Coalisland. He is buried in Cookstown cemetery. Elizabeth spent her later days in Rosborough House, Moy. She died on Dec.23, 1989, and is buried in Cookstown cemetery.

           
        William Neill in 1937. Margaret (Neill) Macdonald
        with granddaughter Doreen.

        Marriage certificate of William Neill and Sarah Jane Robinson.

        William and Elizabeth had at least six children:

        1. William Neill served in World War II and in the Ulster Defence Regiment. He married Evelyn McKay and they lived in Ballinakelly. They had at least one child:
          1. Elizabeth Neill married John Chapman. They live in Tamnamore near Dungannon.
        2. George Neill married ? Wylie. They lived in Gortgonis near Coalisland and had a family.
        3. Margaret Neill married Richard Wilkinson. They lived in Drumcoo near Dungannon.
        4. Clyde Neill married ? Mullin. They lived in Espey Park, Killyman, Dungannon and had a family.
        5. June Neill married a farmer, Ian McMullen. They lived in Drummond south of Dungannon and had four children:
          1. Fiona Neill, the eldest daughter.
          2. Lesley Neill, the second daughter.
          3. Paula Neill.
          4. William Neill.
        6. James Neill was born about 1940 and was killed in a road accident near Coalisland on Aug.27, 1948, at the age of 8. He is buried in Cookstown cemetery.

      2. Margaret Neill was Doreen's grandmother. She was born on May 10, 1895, when the family was living in the Gate Lodge on the Loughery estate just south of Cookstown, Co.Tyrone. She is listed in the 1901 Census as a 5-year-old girl living with her parents on the Loughery estate. In the 1911 Census, 15-year-old mill worker Margaret Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with her parents and siblings. Margaret was married to James Macdonald on Nov.1, 1916, in the Derryloran Church of Ireland. Margaret was always eager to help others, especially in illness and would have made a good nurse. James taught her how to use a revolver and she became an expert at shooting bottles off a palm tree in their garden at Charlemont. She was a staunch loyalist and although she lived in a Roman Catholic community in Coalisland she was greatly respected by everyone. She hated to be idle and there was always a piece of knitting on the needles. She also loved to bake; among her specialities were potato bread and potato apple cake. She died just 3 and a half months after James on Jul.22, 1976. (See James Macdonald.)

      3. James Neill was born about 1896 and is listed in the 1901 Census as a 4-year-old boy living with his parents on the Loughery estate just south of Cookstown. In the 1911 Census, 14-year-old mill worker James Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with his parents and siblings. James became a serjeant in the British Army, with the Royal Artillery. He was also stationed for a time in Pune, India. He fought at the Battle of the Somme in the 1914-18 war. James married Nancy ? in Scotland and died in Glasgow from gangrene of the leg.

      4. Thomas Neill was born about 1897 and is listed in the 1901 Census as a 3-year-old boy living with his parents on the Loughery estate just south of Cookstown. Thomas died in childhood.

      5. Samuel Neill died in infancy.

      6. John Neill was born about 1900 and is listed in the 1901 Census as a 1-month-old baby living with his parents on the Loughery estate just south of Cookstown. In the 1911 Census, 10-year-old schoolboy John Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with his parents and siblings. Like his brothers William and James, John was a serjeant in the British Army, serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles. He fought in the 1914-18 war and was at one time stationed in Pune, India. Later he worked as a shipyard ganger. He never married. John died in Cookstown on May 9, 1961, at the age of 60 and is buried in Cookstown cemetery.

      7. Mary Neill was born about 1903. In the 1911 Census, 7-year-old schoolgirl Mary Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with her parents and siblings. Mary married a farmer, Thomas Young, with land near Magherafelt, County Derry. They had four children:
        1. James Young worked in a bacon factory in Cookstown. He married Anna Burns and had a family.
        2. Frederick Young married Joyce ? and had a family.
        3. Alexander Young, known as ``Lexie'', was killed in a road accident in Cookstown.
        4. Jean Young became a nurse and worked in the South Tyrone Hospital in Dungannon. She married Herbert Meneely, a plumber. They lived in Castlecaulfield and had a family.

      8. Sarah Neill, known as Sadie, was born about 1906. In the 1911 Census, 5-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Neill is listed as living in house #30, Millburn Street, Cookstown, with her parents and siblings. Sarah married an electrician, Samuel Allen, and they lived in Coalisland on the Dungannon side of the railway bridge. Later they moved to Dungannon. They had five children listed below. Samuel served in Iceland during the second world war. In 1987, Sadie was still living in Dungannon.
        1. May Allen married Cyril Woods, a policeman in Dungannon who had previously worked as a tenter in Moygashel. They had three children, Valerie, Brian and Christine.
        2. Frances Allen worked for Enkalon, a synthetic fibre company. He married Patricia Gallagher from Moygashel, who died fairly young.
        3. Ian Allen worked for Enkalon, a synthetic fibre company in Antrim. He married Hilda Meneely. Ian died in 1990. He and Hilda had five children:
          1. Stephen Allen became an instructor with the British Army in Germany. He is unmarried.
          2. Jacqueline Allen married Thomas Bridges, a soldier who served as a diving instructor with the British army in Kiel, Germany. They are now living in England. They have a daughter, Terry Bridges, and a son, Conor Bridges.
          3. Donald Allen became a soldier with the Irish Rangers in the British Army and was stationed in England. He is now retired and living in Ballymena. He is married with one daughter.
          4. Deborah Allen was married and separated from her first husband with whom she had a daughter, Leigh. She is now married for the second time to a man named Derek with whom she had a son.
          5. Lynda Allen worked in Antrim before her marriage to Barry Mitchell. They now live in Carrickfergus.
        4. James Allen worked for Turner Brothers in Rochdale, England. He married Joan Henry and they had a family.
        5. Barbara Allen married Roy McCollum. They live in Cookstown and have a son, Allen McCollum.

    2. Eliza Neale was born on Jan.27, 1866, the daughter of Thomas and Sally Neale of Killybearn. If Eliza was indeed part of this family, it seems likely that she died young for family legend does not remember her.

    3. Sarah Ann Neill was born on March 7, 1870, the daughter of Thomas Neill, a labourer, and his wife Sarah, formerly Art, of Clare, Cookstown, County Tyrone. Clare is just east of Cookstown main street. On Apr.15, 1919, in the Derryloran Church, Sarah married a widower William John Artt, a farmer in Tullygare, parish of Derryloran, who had a son, Isaac D. Artt. William John was related to her mother, as described in Appendix 7A. Sarah and William lived just opposite the Derryloran Church in Cookstown and had no children. William John Artt died on Dec.16, 1923, at the age of 71 and is buried in Cookstown cemetery. Isaac erected a gravestone in his memory. Sarah died on Aug.14, 1950, and is also buried in the Cookstown cemetery.

    4. Margaret Neill was born on Oct.16, 1872, in Clare. She never married and lived in the family home in Clare which is just east of Cookstown. In the 1901 Census 24-year-old unmarried Margaret Neill is listed as living in Clare, Cookstown, with her mother, Sarah. In the 1911 Census 29-year-old unmarried Margaret Neill is listed as living in house #3 in Clare, Cookstown, with her mother, Sarah. Margaret died on Oct.16, 1936, and is buried in the Cookstown Cemetery. David McCullough registered her death.

  2. Mary Neill and Sarah Neill were twin daughters of George and Mary Neil who were born in Ballygonny near Coagh on Dec.16, 1836, and were baptized in Tamlaght parish church on Jan.15, 1837. This may be the Sarah Neill who married Peter Mullan, a farmer, and gave birth to a daughter, Agnes Mullan, on Jun.26, 1880, in Clare, Cookstown.

  3. Charles Neale who married Catherine McAlister on Jun.9, 1855, in the Parish Church of Derryloran may well have been a brother of Thomas. On their marriage certificate Charles is described as of full age, a bachelor labourer of Terressan, parish of Derryloran whose father is George Neale, a labourer. Terressan is about a mile east of Cookstown. Catherine is of full age, a spinster servant of Ardcumber, parish of Derryloran whose father, James McAlister, is a stonemason. The children of Charles and Catherine Neale:
    1. Thomas Neil was born in Terressan on Jan.11, 1856. He may be the Thomas Neill of Tamlaght parish who, on Sep.28, 1870 at the age of 14, was confirmed in the parish church of Tamlaght.
    2. Mary Neil was born in Terressan on Jan.2, 1858.
    3. Joseph Neil was baptized in the parish of Arboe on Apr.23, 1865.
    4. Margaret Neill was born in Mullickteragh(?), parish of Arboe, on Dec.31, 1865.

  4. Margaret Neale who married David Newbery on Aug.27, 1864, in the Parish Church of Derryloran may well have been a sister of Thomas. On their marriage certificate Margaret is described as of full age, a spinster of Cookstown whose father is George Neale, a farmer. David Newbery is of full age, a bachelor and a butcher, of Cookstown whose father is Henry Newbery, a butcher.

Last updated 7/30/99.


Christopher E. Brennen