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Captain William Neilley (1791.....1864)

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63rd Foot West Suffolk Regiment
  • Born : 05 Feb 1791
  • Where Born : Carrickfergus, Antrim Co., Ireland
  • Occupation : soldier, then farmer
  • Date Arrived : 9 November 1824 Van Dieman's Land
  • Ship Arrived on : "Princess Charlotte".
  • Rank attained : Captain 21 Nov 1828, in 40th
  • Regimental # : 7
  • Date of Enlistment : 1808
  • Date of Discharge : 1834
  • Where Discharged : Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • Died : 05 Feb 1864 (73rd birthday)
  • Where Died / Buried : "Rostella" (at home) near Launceston, Tasmania, Australia Buried:  Windermere church yard, Dilston, Tasmania, Australia
  • Parents Names :
  • Spouse's Name : Jeanette Maria HIGGINS
  • Born : 25 Dec 1804
  • Where Born : Athlone, Westmeath Co., Ireland
  • Occupation : Soldier's wife
  • Date Arrived : 9 November 1824 Van Dieman's Land
  • Ship Arrived on : "Princess Charlotte".
  • Date Married :04 Feb 1823
  • Where Married : Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland
  • Died : 07 Sep 1881
  • Where Died / Buried : Wellington St, Brighton (Melbourne), Victoria, Australia C of E church, Victoria, Australia
  • Spouse's Parents : Matthew HIGGINS (.b.......d) , Jeanette Maria HIGGINS (.b.......d) (it appears that they had same surname before marriage)
  • Descendants

    Information kindly supplied by Doreen & Peter Neilley;

    Area Settled :
          Tasmania, Victoria;
    Children :
    1 . Sarah Alicia NEILLEY; b 21 Feb 1826 at Hobart; bapt 09 Apr 1826 at St David's Protestant Cathedral Church, Hobart; d 22 Jan 1890 at Scarborough, Yorkshire, England; m 04 Aug 1852 at "Rostella", Dilston, Tasmania to Benjamin FOWLER  (1827 - ?) Master mariner & ship owner. 1 son known of.
    2)    Caroline Jeannette NEILLEY; b 18 Jun 1828, at Hobart; bapt 14 Feb 1829 at St David's Protestant Cathedral Church, Hobart; d 24 Apr 1882 at Norwood, Greater London, England; m 06 May 1847 at "Rostella", Dilston, Tasmania to Reverend Henry Plow KANE (before 1828 in England to before 23 Mar 1909 at "Rostella" Minister, school headmaster. 1 daughter and 1 son known of.
    3)    Adelaide Mary NEILLEY; 04 Aug 1830 at Hobart; bapt 08 Oct 1831 at St David's Protestant Cathedral Church, Hobart; d 13 Aug 1909 at South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; m 1) 25 Jul 1855 at St John's Church, Launceston, Tasmania to Thomas DRYBURGH (1815 - 17 Apr 1868 at "Rostella") Collector of Customs in Launceston & Melbourne; m 2) after 17 Apr 1868 to James Brougham DRUMMOND (? - ?) Civil Service, Ports and Harbour Dept, later in the Private Secretary's Dept and ADC to General McArthur (Acting Governor), then in the Mining and Law Dept and finally Clerk of Committees to the Legislative Council. 1 daughter known of.
    4)    Emma Louise NEILLEY; b 25 Jun 1834 in Tasmania; bapt 30 Jul 1834 in Tasmania; d 08 Jun 1854 of scarlet fever. Never married. No children.
    5)    William Robert Samuel NEILLEY; b 22 May 1837 at "Rostella"; bapt 07 Mar 1838 probably in Tasmania; d 15 Jan 1900 at "Wandella", 120 Balmain Road, Leichhardt, Sydney, NSW, Australia; worked at many things including being a civil servant and a journalist an; m 04 Sep 1861 Trinity Church, Geelong, Victoria, Australia to Margaret Robinson (20 Dec 1840 Geelong, Victoria - 30 Aug 1927 Tathra, NSW). 7 sons and 4 daughters known of.
    5)    Henry Frederick NEILLEY; b 21 Feb 1841 at "Rostella"; 15 Mar 1870 at "Rostella"; civil servant and JP 6)    Mary Anne NEILLEY; b 27 Sep 1843 at "Rostella"; d 18 Feb 1911 at Paignton, Devonshire, England; m 18 Jun 1861 at "Rostella" to William Mather ANDERSON (c 1840 - ?) Chief Inspector of the Oriental Bank in London, and at one time was Acting Governor of Mauritius. 1 son known of.
    7)    Jessie Frances Montague NEILLEY; b 23 Apr 1848 at "Rostella"; bapt 19 Jun 1849 at Church of England (probably St Matthias), Windemere, Tasmania; 01 Oct 1893 at Black Rock, Sandringham, Melbourne, Victoria (most likely) or 07 Apr 1907 in Melbourne, Victoria; m 15 Dec 1868 at "Rostella" to George Hamilton TRAILL (bet 1812/1849 in England - 07 Apr 1907 in Melbourne, Victoria) manager of the Oriental Bank in Mauritius, then Bombay and finally Melbourne. George was the fifth son of the Rev. James Traill, (by his second wife) who was for 25 years the Episcopalian Minister at Haddington, East Lothian, England. [Have some information about this family also] 5 daughters known of. George was married previously, with 1 son and 1 daughter - wife and son drowned in the wreck of the "London" on 11 Jan 1865.
    History & Achievements :
      ARMY LIFE      William joined the army in 1808. He was commissioned ensign 21 April 1809 in the 40th Regiment (now the South Lancashire's). They left Geneva Barracks, Clonmel, Ireland in May 1811 to join the 1st Battalion in Portugal where the Army was under the command of the Duke of Wellington. William was present at the battles of  Ciudad-Rodrigo 19/1/1812, Siege of Badajoz May 1812Salamanca 22/6/1812  , Battle of Vimeiro 21/8/1808 Pyrenees 9 days July 1813, Battles of Nivelle  ,Orthes , and Toulouse , for which he received the Peninsular Medal and nine clasps. : . After he was made a lieutenant on 26 September 1811, he had a servant (unnamed in the records) who was not a soldier, so he had to pay 2 1/2 p a day for his food. [1]      William marched to Bordeaux and embarked on board the ship 'Sultan' for Cork. Form there he left 8 October 1814 for New Orleans; one of the transports was wrecked in Bantry Bay, so they returned to Ireland and put out again Nov 1814. They arrived at New Orleans via Barbados.       From the Historical Records of the 40th Regiment (p 174) comes the following fragment about that time:      "... Squalls, moreover, often occurred; the prospect, therefore, of several days and nights in open boats was not agreeable.      However, three days rations were cooked, and all was ready on the morning of the 10th as far as the regiment was concerned, but there were still not enough boats to take it, and consequently some did not start till the following day. Lieutenant Wray, who was in one of the boats which started on the 10th. made the following entry on the 11th:      "Last night it came on to blow so hard we were obliged to make for a vessel that we saw a light form, not knowing whether English or American; but we were in the greatest danger of being swamped. Captain Fisher commanded the boats. I did not think in any part of the world the climate was so changeable as here - one day it is as cold as charity, and the next as hot as love."      Such was the experience of one party; and that of the other does not seem to have been much better, for Lieutenant Neilley, who started ?? [printer messed up this bit] eighty miles in an open boat was by no means pleasant. A captain of the navy came on board to further the disembarkation, and informed us the officers might go in a schooner and the men in transport launches. We got on board the schooner L, and weighed anchor immediately. We had not proceeded fifteen miles up the river when the schooner grounded."        In the meantime the disastrous attack on New Orleans had taken place, in which the commander in chief Sir Edward Pakenham and the second in command Major-General Gibbs, were killed, besides many other officers and a great number of men. Also, the  'Repulse' incident had just occurred, so Sir John Lambert, on whom the command of the army was then devolved, decided to re-embark his troops and orders were recieved by the 40th, on their way up the river, to return at once and reship the men in the transports. This, in time, was done, but the hardships which all had to bear were great. They returned via Havana to Portsmouth May 1815.      They immediately re-embarked for Belgium and marched from Ghent 16 June 1815, reaching the field of Waterloo on the morning of 18 June, where under the Duke of Wellington they "had the honour of participating in that memorable action", close to the farm of Mont St Jean. In a regimental history th following reference is made to the 1st Battalion 40th Regiment:      "In this famous victory the battalion nobly maintained its high reputation, and stood like a rock against the pitiless iron storm, and the fierce assaults of Napoleon's horse and foot, till the time came when Lord Wellington, hat in hand, led forward the advances which, once for all, swept the army of Napoleon from the Battlefield." ~~  Paris Occupation      William was one of the few Peninsular veterans to be present at the Waterloo victory, and afterwards at the occupation of Paris. Following the retreating French army, they reached Paris; from July 1815 to January 1816 they encamped at Neilley Park, named after William's uncle Joseph. [The name may be spelled Nueilley Parc, and I cannot verify the story of it being named after William's uncle.]      On leaving there they moved to Cambrai where William received his Waterloo medal. At Cambrai 100 years later his grandson General AT Anderson CMG received the Legion d'Honneur in 1916.  
    ~~  MARRIED      After the 40th Regiment's being ordered to Stirling Castle, they moved to Athlone, where William married the day before his 32cd birthday. It is probable that William met his bride through military circles, as her brothers were both officers in the 7th Fusiliers. A letter from another descendant, Betty Mutch, says "Captain Neilley met and married Jeanette Naghten [sic] in Athlone Ireland. Nearby was Benown Castle that had a lot of parties for the 40th Regiment. [Jeanettte was raised by her aunt Mrs Naghten. I haven't been able to find any information about Benown Castle, although I have written to Ireland.]  
    ~~  AUSTRALIA BOUND      William and Jeanette went to Chatham (a ship building centre) embarking 14 June 1824, with William in command of a guard furnished by the 40th Regiment on the convict ship 'Princess Charlotte' for Australia, in a convoy of 12 ships. Travelling via Rio de Janiero they arrived at Van Dieman's Land 9 November 1824. Leaving the convicts in Hobart they proceeded to Sydney arriving 1 December 1824. The Neilleys returned to Hobart Town in the ship 'Laine', a sloop of War (Captain Kingscombe) 7 February 1826.  
    ~~  MADE CAPTAIN      For his services as Lieutenant (26 September) and Adjutant, he was gazetted as a Captain 21 November 1828. [John Neilly has sent me information showing this as happening 21 Sep 1821 and that he retired on half pay on 21 November 1828, from military records. [2]) He accepted an unattached company in December 1828 and removed from the 40th, which Regiment proceeded to India. He became Ordinance Storekeeper in Hobart in 1828 until appointed, on full pay, to the 63rd Regiment August 1831.  
    ~~  RETIRED TO ROSTELLA      On the sale of his Company in 1834, he retired and settled on his grant of land of 407 acres on the east bank of the Tamar River. He had spent 26 years in the Army.  He was granted 2560 acres of land in this area, at 2 pence per acre under military regulation 3445wd. [2]      His house, built of bricks made by the convicts on the estate, was called "Rostella". A description of the house and property follows:      "Below Dilston, Rostella occupies its own promontory jutting into the Tamar. ... The homestead Rostella at Dilston, ten miles from Launceston, has been a landmark on the river Tamar since 1835. With the aid of convict labour, he made bricks on the property and erected a substantial two-storied brick structure complete with a large cellar, an underground tank, and a well in the back yard. The walls of the house are of solid brick, 14 inches thick and the doors are of cedar. The nails are hand made."      In the 1830s when "Rostella" was being made ready for the family, the workmen were called upon to 'bail up' by an armed gang of bushrangers. When the leader of the gang found out whose property they had violated, he urged his men to return the loot to the house and take only a few provisions, for it is said the bushranger maintained that Captain Neilley had saved him from many a flogging while in Hobart.      A newspaper article written 23 March 1909 said [most of it would apply to the Neilleys because the property wasn't sold until 1886]      "... Rostella, the homestead property of Mrs Coulson [bought property from Neilley family], comprises over 400 acres, fully half being open and under cultivation. That the land is capable of producing good crops is known, although, the past seasons being very dry, and no compost being applied to the land, the late autumn harvest returned 26 bushels of oats per acre. Root crops do well, including potatoes and mangolds, and sheep find excellent grazing. For orchard purposes some of the land could not be surpassed. Indeed there are pear trees 60 and 70 years old [making them planted in the 1830s and 40s, almost certainly by the Neilley] now producing some very fine fruit, and some apple trees of later planting are doing well. [All the orchards were bull-dozed out under a Government scheme after WWII.] The question of stability having been repeatedly raised when discussing the quality and fitness of the East tamat soil for fruit growing, readers are requested to note references here and subsequently to the age of single trees and orchards, as being pertinent to the point at issue. It is most remarkable how such derogatory statements have been foisted upon the public mind, and not in the past years to the extent of present endeavour. Were half the property known by the name Rostella placed upon the market, a chance for making a home and promoting combined industries would be readily available. Mrs Coulson hitherto has been adverse to parting with her property, and perhaps, because of associations interwoven with her occupancy of 21 years [meaning she moved in about 1888]. Originally Captain Neilly held Rostella under a grant from the Government. The late gentleman built the residence many years ago, and when the native blacks were numerous in the district. The house, which has two storeys, is large and commodious, and the rooms airy. There are in association items of more than common interest. Fully 60 years ago Rev Plow Cane, who was closely associated with Launceston Grammar School, after severing his connection with that celebrated establishment, opened a school at Rostella House, esteeming the locality a perfect health resort, and providing natural advantages for the development of his pupils' physique. ...        William called the other grant of land "Benown". This grant was of 2153 acres, He named both places after the original houses in Ireland, Rostella having been where his wife Jeanette was raised and Benown possibly where they met.        The house is now available for rent on a daily or weekly basis by a small group of people.        The Captain was a friend of Dr Matthias Gaunt who built the church at Windermeer in 1842. Both men were appointed churchwardens in 1846 at the first meeting of parishioners. For the years remaining to him William interested himself in his family and property, the church, raising sheep and enjoying the river.  
    ~~  DEATH      William died at home in February 1864, on his 73rd birthday. At his funeral in Windemere Church - where he had been churchwarden - the coffin was carried by four long-time servants. One had been with the family for 28 years, another for 25.      "Rostella" was sold out of the family some time after William's death, possibly five years after Jeanette died. The family that bought it, the Coulson s, were still there in the 1990s.   Obituary Church News February 1864  Captain Neilley      I t has pleased God to remove from us a true hearted churchwarden, one who knew nothing of sects or parties, but was a humble follower of His Master. For many years he was the priest of his family, the Bible and Prayer Book his household books. For his parish he acted as Churchwarden for many years and was Lay Representative at the First Synod - always taking a deep interest in the work of the church, and supporting it in every way. On the 8th February, 1864, he was buried without show or pomp in the church yard at Winderemere, the coffin being borne by four of his old servants, one of whom had been with him as servant and tenant for 28 years, and another for 25 years. He will not be forgotten ... [If four old servants carried the coffin, he couldn't have weighed much?]   Burial record: William Neilley, JP. Captain HM 4XL Reg, husband of Jeanette died Rostella 5 February aged 74. Buried St Matthias churchyard.      [Nei 99]   ~~  FURTHER INFORMATION   Ship to Australia      The 'Princess Charlotte' was 400 tons, ship rigged. Built at Sunderland in 1812, the voyage in 1824 was her first. She was an E1 class. Her Master on this voyage was Joseph Blyth and her Surgeon John Dobie. She sailed from the Downs on 9 July 1824. After a voyage of 123 days, she arrived in Hobart on 9 November 1824. She had embarked 140 male convicts and landed 140 convicts, an enviable record in those days. Source; "The Convict Ships 1787 - 1868", Charles Bateson, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983. There is more information regarding the voyage at the Mitchell Library: Princess Charlotte entry ML [Mitchell Library]  MFR [Microfilm Reel] 3207, ADM 101/61. NDPTS [Names, Date, Place of Trial, Sentence - of convicts on ship], NSW Archives Office. 2/8274 p 49 140 males. The Surgeon's journal of the voyage is also available, but I haven't gotten a transcript of it because it is quite long.
    Family Members Military records  ,Pay rolls, Pay Musters, Cemetery Records, Church Records & General Muster Records, Mitchell Library ,Sydney Australia
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