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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Added 31st May 2012. Last edited 12.3.2013. Minor edits 21.2.2014.

Lieutenant Robert MACNEILL — 13th Light Dragoons

Macneill, McNeill, or MacNeill?

Birth & early life

Born in Pimlico, London, on the 20th of April 1827, the son of Sir John Macneill, a banker, of Belfast, Ireland, and Rutland Square, London.

[PB: Sir John Macneill: banker or engineer?

According to an obituary:

"Captain R. McNeill, late Captain, 13th Hussars, died at No. 157 Cromwell Road, London, on the 5th inst. The deceased was the son of the late Sir John McNeill, LL.D. F.R.S."

But according to EJB, "It is thought that an error has been made here. This Sir John Mcneill was a civil engineer and worked with Telford on road and bridge building in various parts of the British Isles. He was knighted for his work in building the Irish railroad system circa 1843/4. According to all known sources he had only two sons, named Torquil and Telford, both of whom pre-deceased their father, who died in 1880."

However, notice that Robert Macneill had an elder brother called Torquil. Is it possible that his father was indeed the civil engineer JM?

Yes. The 1871 Census states that RM was living in the home of "John Macneill, 77, Knight, Civil Engineer."]

Educated at Harrow School and Cambridge University, and also studied at a military school at Eltham, Kent.

Service

Cornet in the 3rd Light Dragoons: 16th of June 1848.

Lieutenant, 3rd Light Dragoons: 9th of April 1850.

On to half-pay: 19th of April 1853.

Lieutenant in the 12th Lancers: 9th of July 1853.

Lieutenant in the 3rd Foot: 16th of October 1853.

Lieutenant in the 13th Light Dragoons: 15th of September 1854.

Captain, 13th Light Dragoons: 9th of October 1857.

Retired, by the sale of his commission, on the 12th of January 1866.

Campaign service

Lieutenant Macneill served the Eastern campaign of 1854 and up to the 6th of March 1855, including the affair of the Bulganak, battle of the Alma, and the Siege of Sebastopol. (Medal and Clasps.)

Hart's Army List also states that he served at Balaclava, to have taken part in the Expedition to Eupatoria and to have had the medal with three [sic] clasps.

The 13th Light Dragoon's medal rolls only credit him with the clasps for Alma and Sebastopol and for the former clasp he is shown on the roll as being, "Attached from the 3rd Foot."

Having joined the 13th Light Dragoons on the 27th of September 1854, he returned to the Crimea with a draft of fifty other ranks, landing at [?].

Equally, he could not have served in Eupatoria from October of 1855, as he left for England on the 6th of March 1855.

Medals

Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma and Sebastopol and the Turkish Medal.

"Horse Guards,

16th May 1855.

Sir, — Referring to my letter of the 10th inst, I have the General Commanding -in-Chief's command to desire that all officers entitled to receive the Crimean medal and now with their Depots to be ordered to attend in London for the purpose of being present on the parade on Friday the 18th of May 1855 at 10 o'clock precisely, Be pleased to acknowledge its receipt.

I am, &c. &c.,

G.A. Weatherall. AAG.

[To] Officer Commanding the Cavalry Depots."

He was presented with his Crimean medal by Queen Victoria at aceremony on the Horse Guards Parade on the 18th of May 1855.

His name appears in the Nominal Return of those present now in the PRO, and also on a similar roll which appeared in the United Services Magazine for June of 1855 and on that which appeared in theIllustrated London News of the 26th of May 1855.

Commemorations

Life after service

1871 Census

17, The Grove, Kensington.

John Macneill, 77, Knight, Civil Engineer.

Isabella Macneill, 70.

Robert Macneill, 42, Army Cavalry Retired, born London.

Jessie Macneill, 28.

Hector Macneill, 26.

Five other family members and two servants are also shown.

Death registered

John Benjamin Macneill [father], 87, March Quarter 1880. Kensington.

1881 Census

Orkney House, 186 Cromwell Road, Kensington.

The 1881 Census shows an Isabella McNeill, widow of Baronet, aged 79, born in Dublin, as the Head of Household, living with her sons and a daughter:

Torquil, 55, Late Captain Louth Rifles.

Robert, 53, Late Captain 13th Hussars.

Jessie, 40

Hector, 38.

No occupation was shown for any of them, and all were unmarried.

Five Household Servants are also shown.

Death registered

Isabella Macneill [mother], 85, March Quarter 1885, Kensington.

Death & burial

Death registered

Robert Macneill, 58, June Quarter 1887, Kensington.

From the Army and Navy Gazette, 11th of June 1887:

"Captain R. McNeill, late Captain, 13th Hussars, died at No. 157 Cromwell Road, London, on the 5th inst. The deceased was the son of the late Sir John McNeill, LL.D. F.R.S."

EJB: It is thought that an error has been made here. This Sir John Mcneill was a civil engineer and worked with Telford on road and bridge building in various parts of the British Isles. He was knighted for his work in building the Irish railroad system circa 1843/4. According to all known sources he had only two sons, named Torquil and Telford, both of whom pre-deceased their father, who died in 1880.

PB: However, notice that Robert Macneill had an elder brother called Torquil.

In his will he left his personal estate of 8,083 to his sister, Jessie Macneill.

References & acknowledgements

Additional death registrations, and Census information for 1871 and 1881, kindly provided by Chris Poole.


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