COLONSAY KINDRED No. 3, February 2015 contents:

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

Malcolm McNeill and Katherine Stewart, query by Rob McNeill

Allen McNeill, query by Richard McNeill

The Old Photograph Album - information by Marianne Gibson and Karen Richardson

The Bonaveh Album - an update on the situation by Kevin Byrne

Disclaimer - Note to readers and contact details


Welcome to "Colonsay Kindred" No. 3, February 2015

As is now 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 tries to restrict itself to general history and biography etc. (Issues are online at www.colonsayhistory.info ).

This issue is a little late in appearing, but it matters little since every issue remains permanently online and is thoroughly indexed by the search engines. This means that items mentioned here can be discovered at any time by any new researcher - as time goes by it is hoped to create a "www" of Colonsay-related individuals and researchers. The current issue is consideraly enhanced by contributions by our growing circle of readers and there is also an attempt to update everyone with progress on the McNeill cartes de visite (which are now seen to be relevant to many additional families - indeed, to virtually every long-standing Colonsay family).

Please remember that all Colonsay families are of equal interest and submissions, queries and correspondence for publication will be welcome. Please contact byrne@colonsay.org.uk Sometimes items intended for publication are forgotten, sometimes emails are missed - please do not hesitate to get in touch again, any such errors are unintentional and every effort will be made to correct them.


Malcolm McNeill and Catherine Stewart

Rob McNeill of Alberta was in touch almost 6 years ago, when he was starting to research his Colonsay connections; incidentally, he mentions having joined ancestry.ca and said that “it helped a lot”. He has also joined the MacNeil project of FamilyTreeDNA and reports that at present there are apparently two main haplogroups, one of which is associated with the McNeill lairds of Colonsay. Rob seems to be connected with the other group, which he assumes will have been the crofters, although perhaps it reflects descent from the MacNeills of Barra, by way of Iain a' Chuain (John of the Ocean)? This latter is an old story – in brief, John of the Ocean was born at sea during a flitting from Barra and his descendants are still in Colonsay today, so that there are two lines of origin for the Colonsay McNeills, Barra and Kintyre.

Anyway, Rob has been in touch with updated information. It seems that his great great great grandfather was James McNeill b.1813, who was the son of Malcolm McNeill and Catherine Stewart, all of Colonsay.

James McNeill married Margaret McPhee (presumably the entry in the Colonsay Register reading “Feb 28 1832 James McNeill & Margat McDuffie”?) and they had a son Malcolm in Colonsay in 1836 (Rob's ancestor), although the rest of their family was believed to have been born in Canada. On the other hand, the register also shows that James McNeill and Peggy McPhee (“Jas. McNeill & Peggy McFee”) had a son named Donald who was baptised May 19 1833. Possibly this child did not survive, but Rob says that while doing research on the family after they came to Canada he came across Donald McNeill's name again and he is perhaps a brother of Malcolm hitherto unknown.

The photograph is of Margaret McPhee, who crossed with her husband and family to Canada in 1839-40; she lived to 86 years and the photograph was taken in the early 1890s. Her husband, James, had died much earlier ca. 1854.

Rob is now searching for information on Malcolm McNeill and Catherine Stewart; the baptismal register didn't start until after both were born, but he did find their wedding in the register. To exchange information on this line of descent, make contact through byrne@colonsay.org.uk

BTW: I wonder if Rob could let us see the back of the photograph? It might be interesting to compare with the Colonsay collection (below) in case the studio might match?


Allen McNeill, raised in Colonsay

Richard McNeill writes:

I am trying to research my ancestor Allan (Allen) McNeill who was born in Bailevulin, Mull in 1777. He was the son of John. Allan's mother died when he was young (?in Mull) and Allan was taken to Colonsay where he was looked after by his relatives.

Allan moved to Prince Edward Island between 1806-1810 and other family members subsequently followed him. He married in PEI in 1812 to Margaret McPhagin (McFayden). I wonder whether Allan travelled to PEI from Colonsay as a number of people did.

Allan's father John (1757-1847) is referred to as John [McNeill] of Colonsay . He subsequently also moved to PEI where he died in 1847. Allan had an older brother who lived in Glasgow.

John's father was supposed to be Patrick (Phadring) and he in turn was supposed to be descended from Donald 3rd son of Roderick, Chief of the Clan.

Interested to pursue the Colonsay connection. There is also said to be a connection to Lt JG McNeill of the Black Watch from Arduacross Argyleshire who was killed in combat in Egypt in September 1852.

If you can help, please contact Richard McNeill as mcneill[at]bigpond.net.au


Note by KB: I slightly forget the details, but Richard's reference to the descent from the MacDonald chief rings a bell. The rebellious chief (involved in the '45) died (in combat? or by execution?) and his infant child was brought to Colonsay to be raised quietly by the McNeill laird; he subsequently emigrated to Canada. We had a lot of details, and I think it was published in The Corncrake . The files were unfortunately wiped from the Internet, but hard copies have turned up and it might be possible to find the relevant issue. The “Arduacross” John Godfrey McNeill seems to be the chap who left money for the poor of Kildalton; killed at Tel-el-kebir 13th September 1882

Gravestone shewn at http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=9184&start=15

The Old Photograph Album

This extraordinary album is slowly releasing its secrets. In a nutshell, it consists of a large collection of mostly unidentified late Victorian photographs, all with a Colonsay connection and with a slight skew towards Canada. It seems very probably to have been started by Susan Carruthers McNeill and to have been brought by her to Bonaveh when she moved there with her husband, Hugh Buie. It is beyond doubt that copies of most of the images exist in collections elsewhere, and this has already proved fruitful.

On 18 January 2015 Marianne Gibson wrote:

“... I am reading your newsletters with interest, as I have family history in Colonsay, and noticed that you had a photograph of H. Galbraith. This rang a bell and looking at my tree, I have Hester Galbraith as married to John McPhee, married 6 June1845 [ as transcribed by KB from Old Parish Register ]. I do know that John McPhee was born on Jura, baptised 01 December 1814, to Malcolm McPhee and Ann Paterson, who later moved to Colonsay and lived at Bonaveh on some records, Riskbuie (Riasg Buidhe) on others. Their daughter, Margaret McPhee is my direct ancestor, marrying Duncan McNeill and living at Riskbuie.

“Anyway, I am hoping the picture of Hester Galbraith might mean that other McNeills of this line may be included in the photographs. I have had very little success finding other descendants of Malcolm McPhee and Ann Paterson, and of my line of McNeills. I am working on this, and on extending the line backwards (The Corncrake no. 52 also names Malcolm McPhee as the likely descendent of the clan chief, shot 1623, so I am assuming the McPhees were returning to Colonsay rather than making a new move). I was also interested to read that Kinales McPhee was born on Jura ... Marianne Gibson

“p.s. As an aside, Margaret McPhee and Duncan McNeill's daughter Ann worked as a servant at Kilcreggan (at that time in Dunbartonshire), and married John Campbell of Coll, at Greenock, before emigrating to the USA, where my g-g-grandfather Duncan Campbell was born, before the family returned to scotland. Ann died in Kelvin, Glasgow and John Campbell remarried and moved to Inveraray with his youngest son, who I think later became mayor? Meanwhile Duncan Campbell settled in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, and my g-grandmother Ann Campbell now has descendents in Australia, Holland, Scotland, England and Ireland. My grandmother, Ann Campbell Watterson, had no idea of the Colonsay connection and thought the family was from Inverary, so it was a nice surprise when we started our research with Scotlandspeople!”


The above information is fascinating, and was accompanied by detailed extracts from ScotlandsPeople sources. As it happened, the editor of this newsletter is working on an essay, A History of Bonaveh, and was able to send a draft copy to Marianne. It includes some very curious snippets of information, not least about Margaret MacPhee – with luck it may be finished in time for publication in the March issue of Colonsay History.


The latest information has just arrived from Karen Richardson who writes:

We are the one of the families descended from Kinales McPhee and Flora McNeill. Their daughter Margaret married William Stroyan and came to Alberta, Canada. I have letters which Margaret and William's daughter Bella received from the McNeill family of Colonsay. I believe John Cooke may send them to you as well as some pictures.

When looking through the McNeill Images I noticed two that we also have. The Stuart Photo from Glasgow & Helensburgh (man with beard) and the R.W. Elliott Aldershot (young girl). We also have many unidentified pictures, some from an old black album of those old cardboard style photos sent to Bella (Stroyan) Mathias.



RIMG0010 Gentleman on left RIMG0011 Studio detail on left


RIMG0074 RIMG0075

Readers may recall that Kinales MacPhee, mentioned above, was the subject of an article in our December issue.

Karen says that if anyone from the McNeill family would like to connect with her she would gladly scan and share all she has…. Try ric1983[at]xplornet.com or make contact through byrne@colonsay.org.uk Please do let Colonsay Kenidred know of any further success.


The Bonaveh Album and the latest Notes

At first it was the McNeill Album, but it has already become clear that virtually every Colonsay family is linked to it in some way, so perhaps it should for now be called by a more neutral term, the house where it was kept, Bonaveh (from "Bun a' Bheithe" = "Birch Stump"). The full collection of photographs can be seen here. In an attempt to keep everything together, a set of notes exists and the latest copy is here. Please note that an attempt has been made to describe each photograph but the writer (Kevin Byrne) is no expert on guessing ages or describing hair styles, jewellery or ladies' fashions; if any reader cares to improve upon any of the descriptions he will be grateful.

Although “H.Galbraith” is as yet unidentified, lots of new information has kindly come to hand, thanks to islander Mrs. Betty Galbraith. Perhaps one of the leads will solve the problem – and there is still a mystery surrounding Betty Duncan - if any reader has time to do the research, there are some notes on her in the December issue.


A note to our readers:

Family History queries, obituaries, gravestones, trees and shipping lists will be much appreciated for this site - please feel free to get in touch with byrne[at]colonsay.org.uk

A sister site exists at www.colonsayhistory.info which hosts Colonsay History, a bi-monthly publication dealing with more general matters of local history, biography etc. Do please get in touch if you find either site of interest, because otherwise one cannot know if the project is worthwhile.

Material published here counts as "work in progress"; please do not accept it as fact without recourse to original sources.

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