1. CHARLES2 MCNEIL (POSSIBLYARCHIBALD1)1 was born 1679 in Scotland or Ireland2, and died July 17, 1737 in Sable Island, near Nova Scotia, Canada3. He married MRS. CHARLES MCNEIL Bef. 1700 in Scotland or Ireland. She was born Bet. 1679 - 1682 in Scotland or Ireland4, and died July 17, 1737 in Sable Island, near Nova Scotia, Canada5.
Notes for CHARLES MCNEIL:
The following information was provided to me from the research of Donald Southworth McNeil, by his son Alexander McNeil, and is used with permission:
"Charles died, along with his brother, Archibald McNeil of Ballycastle, Antrim, North Ireland, and other family members, aboard the Cathrine, off Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, July 17, 1737."
From Suffolk County (Boston, Massachusetts) probate records, for September 12, 1737: "On (this) day, less then two months after the tragedy at Sable, Adam McNeil of Boston, Mariner, declared that, 'Charles McNeil of Ballycastle in the county of Antrim, Ireland, gentleman, was on board the snow Cathrine of Workington, and with others was cast away and drowned on the Isle of Sable on the 17th day of July last past."
An order that day by Probate Judge Josiah Williard appointing Archibald McNeil of Branford administrator of the estate began: "To Archibald McNeil of Branford in the Colony of Connecticut, shopkeeper, Greeting. Whereas your father Charles McNeil late of Ballycastle, in the County of Antrim in the Kingdom of Ireland, gentleman deceased, having while he lived, and at the time of his decease, goods, chattels, rights or credits in the county aforesaid . . ."
From these records several conclusions may be drawn:
1) Although the two bought land in Litchfield, Connecticut, Archibald McNeil of Branford, shopkeeper, was a different man from Archibald McNeil of Litchfield, the eldest surviving son of Archibald McNeil of Ballycastle.
2)Charles McNeil and Archibald McNeil, both of Ballycastle, both of whom died at Sable Island, were closely related, probably brothers.
3) Because an administrator for the estate of Charles McNeil was appointed in Boston, but there is no record there of an estate for Archibald McNeil of Ballycastle, it is likely that the estate (for Archibald of Ballycastle) was probated in Ireland.
It has not been documented when Charles left Scotland for Ireland, but it is estimated in some accounts to have been around 1700.
(note from Kathy McNeil Beaudry: the report below was commissioned by Rod McNeil, of MD, and compiled by the Ulster Historical Society)
McNeil of Ballycastle, Co Antrim
"The requested search for the client's ancestor has been completed and the
findings presented in the following report. Civil registration of all
births, deaths and marriages did not commence in Ireland until 1864.
Non-Catholic marriages are registered from 1845. Before these dates
virtually the only sources of information which directly relate to family
history are local parish registers. However, relatively few of these date
from before 1800 and virtually none from the beginning of the eighteenth
" Unfortunately, though not wholly unexpectedly, none of the five
parishes along the north coast of Antrim - Dunluce , Billy, Ballintoy,
Ramoan and Culfeightron - have church registers which date from 1800, let
alone 1700. This meant that we were denied the chance to examine the most
important genealogical source of information on the McNeil family. In
order to overcome this handicap we were forced to exploit to the maximum
any other potentially relevant sources.
" Fortunately, for the purposes of this search the papers relating to
the estate of the earls of Antrim were available to us. This collection of
estate papers is one of the largest in the Public Record Office of
Northern Ireland. Comprising about 500,000 documents, the material is made
up of a very large number of seventeenth and eighteenth century leases,
lists of tenants and a survey of the entire estate in 1734. The Antrim
estate covered most of the northern part of Co Antrim, including, and of
most interest for the purposes of this search, Ballycastle.
"To begin with we examined the survey of the estate made in 1734 which
comprises a series of townland maps and a list of the names of the tenants
of each farm on the estate. We found several McNeills including a Charles
McNeile of Dowey whose farm totaled nearly 190 acres (English measure).
We also found an Archibald McNeile in the townland of North Clogher whose
holding was almost 250 acres (English measure). Because of the nature of
these documents it was not possible to photocopy the maps of the above
" It was, unfortunately, not possible to find out any more about this
McNeile family of Derry. Dowey is presumably Dooey which is a townland in
the north coast of Antrim but closer to the town of Bushmills than
Ballycastle. It is possible that Charles McNeil, the client's ancestor,
may have lived in Ballycastle but possessed a lease of a farm in Dowey
which was in turn leased to a sub-tenant. Of course, it is not actually
possible to prove this. We then examined the extensive collection of
expired leases relating to the Antrim Estate. Recently this collection has
been expertly catalogued. However, there is still no index which meant
that the calendar covering the collection had to be examined page by page.
were found to a Charles McNeil, although quite a few leases were found relating
to other McNeills. This included a fee farm grant of lands at
Clougher (Clogher) from the Earl of Antrim to Archibald McNeill. However,
the date of 1738 indicates that this man could not have been part of the
immediate family of the client's ancestor.
" At this point a searcher, out of curiosity, picked up the index volume
of the Journal of the Association for the Preservation of Memorials of the
Dead in Ireland and looked up the name Charles McNeil. A reference was
found and when this was looked up a most extraordinary piece of
information was uncovered. The reference concerned the church plate in the
parish of Culfeightrin, on the north coast of Ireland, and recorded that
the paten - the plate on which the consecrated bread is placed in the
Eucharist - is inscribed as follows: 'This server, chalice and flagon
given to ye Church of Culfeightrin by Mr. Charles McNeill, the 1st
land waiter of Ballycastle, Octr ye 25: 1728.' Unfortunately the article
continues by lamenting that nothing more in known about this man. However,
it is possible to infer a number of things about this Charles McNeill. To
begin with, he was a member of the Church of Ireland rather than a
Presbyterian. Secondly, his occupation indicates that he was closely
involved with the harbour at Ballycastle. He was of some status being the
first person appointed to the position of landwaiter in Ballycastle.
Thirdly, he was a man of some wealth, being able to afford the costly
church plate, while he obviously had a strong attachment to the parish
church of Culfeightrin.
"This was not the only reference to a Charles McNeill in the
aforementioned Journal. A second article was found which noted that the
chalice of the Church of Ireland on the inland of Rathlin is inscribed:
'Given by Mr. Charles McNeale ye 14 of Feb. 1719'. If this was the same
man as the Ballycastle landwaiter it would appear that he had the curious,
but also generous, habit of donating silverware to churches in north
Antrim. At the same time there is no evidence that these men were one and
the same, although, on the other hand, there is no particular reason to
doubt it. Rathlin Island is located about five miles directly north of
Ballycastle and there have always been very close connections between the
two. If Charles McNeill was associated with the harbour at Ballycastle
then, undoubtedly, he would have had numerous dealings with Rathlin. In
fact, Charles McNeill may have living on the island in 1719, though we
could find nothing to support this suggestion.
"Our next step was to examine the indexes of Connor wills and
administration bonds in the hope of finding a reference to the will of
Charles McNeill. We did not find one. However, we did find a reference to
the administration bond of Charles McNeill of Brughanlea, dated 1739.
Brughanlea is a townland on the north coast of Antrim located very close
to the town of Ballycastle. The date is the date of the administration
bond which could have been several years after the death of the testator.
It is very unfortunate that we do not have a copy of this bond - it having
been destroyed - as it means we cannot pursue this avenue of research
further. However, there are strong grounds for arguing that this
administration bond is in relation to the death of the client's ancestor.
The two years between the date of death and the date of the administration
bond may have been due to the difficulties encountered when trying to wind
up the estate of a man who had drowned several thousand miles from his
"Interestingly, we found in a list of Protestant householders in the
parish of Culfeightrin two Widow McNeals. Although it has been assumed
that Charles McNeil drowned along with his wife in 1737, could it be that
she did not accompany her husband on his fateful voyage, perhaps planning
to join him at a later stage, and, in fact, one of the above Widow McNeals
was his relict? Several other parishes along the north Antrim coast we
found to have McNeal inhabitants in 1740, though no McNeals lived on
Rathlin Island at this time.
"An index of the Belfast Newsletter newspaper, founded in 1737, has been
compiled for the pre-1800 editions and we searched this in the hope of
finding an account of the shipwreck in which Charles McNeil met his death.
This necessitated a visit to the Linenhall Library in Belfast where the
index is stored on microfiche. Unfortunately, however, the Newsletter was
not launched until September 1737 while the shipwreck of the Catherine
took place in July of that year. Nevertheless, we still looked at the index in the
hope that there would be a later reference to the incident. However, we failed
to find anything of relevance.
" Following this disappointment we turned our attention to grand jury
record which for Co Antrim have survived from 1711-21 and then from 1727.
We checked the surviving records up until c.1738. The available material
is mainly concerned with payments to various individuals regarding
services carried out on behalf of the grant jury. We found quite a few
entries concerning McNeills, though none to Charles McNeil. We had hoped
that a man of his status would have appeared at least once. An Archibald
McNeale was present in Carrickfergus as part of a jury assembled there in
1720. However, this is not likely to have been the son of Charles McNeil
as he would almost certainly have been too young. One interesting entry
referred to Hector McNeill, who was High Sheriff of Co Antrim, who in 1734
was paid £60 for transporting certain people to America.
It had been pointed out to us that the client's ancestors had been active
masons in America and that we ought to investigate whether they had
previously been masons in Ireland. In order to follow this up we contacted
the Dublin headquarters of the Irish freemasons were extensive records
relating to the organization are stored. However, we were informed that
the earliest records of the lodge at Ballycastle date from the 1760s. In
fact, there is no evidence that there were masons in the town before this.
"We found a number of references to McNeill pedigrees in the Public
Record Office of Northern Ireland. We examined each of those but only one
appeared to have any relevance to the enquiry in hand and even this is
doubtful. This pedigree referred to the McNeills of Gigha and Taynish,
places in Scotland, and included a Charles McNeill who was the son of
Torquil and the grandson of Lachlan (born 1604?) by his first marriage.
Unfortunately, other than his name, nothing is given about Charles McNeill
- not even a date of birth or death. He did have an uncle and two cousins
called Archibald though whether there is any significance in this is not
clear. What is interestingly is the fact that a grandson of Charles' uncle
was called Neill McNeill who lived at Colliers Hall in Ballycastle. This
pedigree may refer to the family of the client's ancestor, but, as the
same time, we really can't be sure.
"We consulted a number of other sources and also read several books
dealing with north Antrim and the town of Coleraine. The additional
primary sources checked included the Names' Index to the Registry of Deeds
which was established in 1708. We found quite a few instances of the name
McNeil, in its various form, though unfortunately no references to an
Archibald McNeill in the index we decided that a full investigation of all
these references would be too time consuming and probably not worthwhile.
We also tried, and failed, to find any shipping records of the early
eighteenth century relating to ports on the north coast of Ireland.
"Time did not permit further investigation. A large number of sources
were consulted and anything we believed was potentially relevant was
extracted. Unfortunately the lack of appropriate church records prevented
us from finding out any definite information on the family history of
Charles McNeil. However, there are strong grounds for believing that the
client's ancestor was the landwaiter who donated the silverware to the
parish church of Culfeightrin in 1728. He may also have been the Earl of
Antrim's tenant in Dowey in 1734. Aside of these scraps of information, we
regret to say that every little else was uncovered despite an extensive
search. We do hope, however, that the information contained in this report
may prove of interest. " (end of UHS report)