Casefile Clues

19 April 2013

A Sister for Samuel and Joseph Neill?

I have been stuck on my Neills for years. A thirty-second lookup a few days ago lead to the likely discovery of one sister of my Irish immigrant forebear, Samuel Neill. The family and the discovery are summarized here in a way that makes sense--instead of how I researched it. I'm hoping that a descendant of the likely sister makes their way across this post and contacts me.

I am lucky that one of my Irish immigrant relatives was born in Ireland in the early 1860s--my ancestor's niece was born a few years before the family left Ireland, so our story will begin with Sarah's baptismal entry in a church in Derramore, Ireland.

Sarah Ann Neil was born on 24 October 1862 and baptized on 7 December 1862 at the Derramore Presbyterian Church in County Derry Ireland. Her parents were Joseph Neil and Ann Bryce. The family was "of Derrybeg" at the time of her baptism. A transcription of this record was obtained on RootsIreland at http://www.rootsireland.ie.

On 16 January 1862 at the Derrymore Presbyterian Church, Joseph Neil and Ann Bryce were married by Wm. [Jamison?], with witnesses of Wm. Mc Intosh and John Archibald. Joseph was of full age and was a bachelor who lived in [Taques] Hill in the parish of Drumachose. Joseph was a servant, and was the son of John Neil who was a laborer. Ann was a spinster of full age and was a servant living in White [??] in the parish of Drumachose. Her father was James Bryce, a laborer. This information was taken from the "Quarterly returns of Marriages 1862 Ireland Vol. 9," Family History Library microfilm roll 0101440, page 375.

This Sarah, her parents, and her uncle Samuel Neill, Joseph's brother, immigrated to New Brunswick, Canada in the 1860s and finally settled in St. Albans Township, Hancock County, Illinois. As mentioned in another page on this site, the Neills indicated they were from Newtown Limavady at the time they immigrated. Information on Sarah and her parents in Ireland is consistent with information on Sarah and her parents in Hancock County, Illinois.

Off to Google


A Google search for the Derramore Presbyterian Church located a website for the page, which I had seen before. What was not there previously was a transcription of early (1825-1899) baptisms from the church. I located the reference to Sarah Ann Neil, but I also noted that there were two births to a Neil mother--both with a residence of Derrybeg:

  • Maria, baptized on 26 September 1869
  • Sarah, baptized on 18 June 1872
Both children's entries indicated their parents were John Scott and Rosanna Neil of Derrybeg. There were only twenty-five entries with Derrybeg as a residence between 1825 and 1899--and only three of those indicated a parent with a last name of Neil.


I went back to the http://www.rootsireland.ie. website and paid for one more marriage record. This one was from the Christ Church in the Drumachose Parish (Church of Ireland). There on 1 August 1850, John Scott and Rose Ann Neil, both of Ruskey, were married. John Scott was the son of Robert Scott, laborer, and Rose Anne Neil was the daughter of John Neil, laborer.

The case is pretty solid. The chance there were two different John Neils with children who were contemporaries in the Derrybeg area seems fairly slim.

Next on the agenda..looking for John and Roseanna (Neil) Scott on the FamilySearch site.