Researching George Neil

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Researching George Neil

Postby cumartium » 04 Apr 2014 18:50

Researching George Neil:
This soldier, George Neil, is my great aunt's husband. She was born in Newfoundland (where I am now) and went to Nova Scotia in her young years where she met and married George. Oral tradition has it that he was in the Boer War. What I know about him is as follows: This is his picture. Lately I acquired a copy of his death certificate indicating that he was born in England in 1848 and died at Halifax on 24 Mar 1925, age 77 and that he lived in Nova Scotia for 30 years. (Where was he before that?) My aunt came back to Newfoundland and married again. I am hoping that someone can identify the uniform. The medal on the right may be the Khedive's Star. The photo was taken by WM.NORTMAN - Halifax, NS

The Project Gutenburg Ebook of South Africa and Boer-British War Vol 1. By Castel l Hopkins and Murat Halstead has an official list of the Canadian Contingents in South Africa.
It does have the name George Neil; however, he is listed as
Neil, G. 5th R.C.A. as a member of the "A" COMPANY, BRITISH COLUMBIA AND MANITOBA.

Thank you very much.
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby crimea1854 » 04 Apr 2014 19:08

I'll leave the uniform to others, but he is wearing both the Egypt Medal and the Khedives Medal, which either means he was in Egypt in 1882 or the Sudan 1884-86. When we have a likely Regiment I'll check the medal roll.

There is a private G Neil in the 2nd Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment, who was awarded the 1882 Egypt Medal with the Tel-el-Kebir clasp. I have found this mans service record on Find my Past, this shows he married an Alice Stevens, Garrison Chapel, NS, Sept. 1888.

Martin
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby Frogsmile » 04 Apr 2014 20:05

cumartium wrote:Researching George Neil:
This soldier, George Neil, is my great aunt's husband. She was born in Newfoundland (where I am now) and went to Nova Scotia in her young years where she met and married George. Oral tradition has it that he was in the Boer War. What I know about him is as follows: This is his picture. Lately I acquired a copy of his death certificate indicating that he was born in England in 1848 and died at Halifax on 24 Mar 1925, age 77 and that he lived in Nova Scotia for 30 years. (Where was he before that?) My aunt came back to Newfoundland and married again. I am hoping that someone can identify the uniform. The medal on the right may be the Khedive's Star. The photo was taken by WM.NORTMAN - Halifax, NS

The Project Gutenburg Ebook of South Africa and Boer-British War Vol 1. By Castel l Hopkins and Murat Halstead has an official list of the Canadian Contingents in South Africa.
It does have the name George Neil; however, he is listed as
Neil, G. 5th R.C.A. as a member of the "A" COMPANY, BRITISH COLUMBIA AND MANITOBA.

Thank you very much.


Welcome to the Forum Cumartium,

I think that Martin is correct and that the soldier whose image you have posted was a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment, whose regimental depot (where he trained) was in Pontefract, Yorkshire. The regiment was formed from the merger of its two forebears, the 65th and 84th Regiments of Foot, in July 1881. The 65th formed the 1st Battalion of the new regiment and the 84th the 2nd Battalion.

The uniform adopted in that year and worn in your image was a 7-button scarlet tunic with the white facings (collar and cuffs) that were ordered for all English and Welsh regiments that did not have any direct association with a member of the Royal family (i.e. a Royal title). The new regiment's geographic title was taken from that previously used by the 84th, whose 1st battalion had been formed in York and 2nd battalion in Lancashire.

The collar badge that was adopted by the new regiment was the Indian Tiger that was awarded to the 65th Regiment of Foot for their distinguished services in India (and Arabia), surmounted by the combined roses of York and Lancaster of the 84th. If you look carefully at your photo you can just about make it out (see enclosed image). His head dress is the glengarry that was adopted as undress wear by all the infantry less the Guards, in 1874, and the post 1881 badge that he wears was basically a circlet representing the order of the garter with the combined rose within and all surmounted by the Victorian crown.

On his left sleeve he has a badge of crossed rifles that indicate that he was a marksman, for which he received extra pay, and below that are three good conduct badges (inverted stripes) that demonstrate that he has completed 12 years of unblemished service, a not inconsiderable feat at a time of hard drinking and hard fighting men.

Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the York & Lancs were in Egypt and eligible for the Khedive Star and from what Martin says it seems likely that your relative was in the 2nd Battalion, previously the 84th Regt. It is also quite likely that as an ex Regular soldier living in NS that he re-enlisted in a Canadian contingent to fight in the 2nd Anglo/Boer War.

Here are the 2nd Battalions movement's over the relevant period:

1881.07.01 2nd Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment
<1881> Curragh
1882 Egypt
1882.10 England
1883.10 Bermuda
1886 Nova Scotia: Halifax
1888 West Indies
1891 South Africa
1893 Matabeleland
1894 South Africa
1896 Rhodesia
1897 Mashonaland
1897.01 at sea (embarked at Cape Town) ship: Warren Hastings (5 coys)
1897.01.14 Réunion wrecked off Saint-Philippe
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby cumartium » 05 Apr 2014 00:10

crimea1854 wrote:I'll leave the uniform to others, but he is wearing both the Egypt Medal and the Khedives Medal, which either means he was in Egypt in 1882 or the Sudan 1884-86. When we have a likely Regiment I'll check the medal roll.

There is a private G Neil in the 2nd Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment, who was awarded the 1882 Egypt Medal with the Tel-el-Kebir clasp. I have found this mans service record on Find my Past, this shows he married an Alice Stevens, Garrison Chapel, NS, Sept. 1888.

Martin

Thanks so much, Martin. That's my uncle George because I have found the same marriage record in a Halifax site along with 2 other marriages one being my aunt Lizzy. Looking fwd to more on his medals and war record if possible. Thanks again and bfn.
Cheers,
Norman
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby cumartium » 05 Apr 2014 00:32

Frogsmile wrote:
cumartium wrote:Researching George Neil:
This soldier, George Neil, is my great aunt's husband. She was born in Newfoundland (where I am now) and went to Nova Scotia in her young years where she met and married George. Oral tradition has it that he was in the Boer War. What I know about him is as follows: This is his picture. Lately I acquired a copy of his death certificate indicating that he was born in England in 1848 and died at Halifax on 24 Mar 1925, age 77 and that he lived in Nova Scotia for 30 years. (Where was he before that?) My aunt came back to Newfoundland and married again. I am hoping that someone can identify the uniform. The medal on the right may be the Khedive's Star. The photo was taken by WM.NORTMAN - Halifax, NS

The Project Gutenburg Ebook of South Africa and Boer-British War Vol 1. By Castel l Hopkins and Murat Halstead has an official list of the Canadian Contingents in South Africa.
It does have the name George Neil; however, he is listed as
Neil, G. 5th R.C.A. as a member of the "A" COMPANY, BRITISH COLUMBIA AND MANITOBA.

Thank you very much.

And thank you very much, Frogsmile. I believe that is my uncle George.
Norman
Welcome to the Forum Cumartium,

I think that Martin is correct and that the soldier whose image you have posted was a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment, whose regimental depot (where he trained) was in Sheffield, Yorkshire. The regiment was formed from the merger of its two forebears, the 65th and 84th Regiments of Foot, in July 1881. The 65th formed the 1st Battalion of the new regiment and the 84th the 2nd Battalion.

The uniform adopted in that year and worn in your image was a 7-button scarlet tunic with the white facings (collar and cuffs) that were ordered for all English and Welsh regiments that did not have any direct association with a member of the Royal family (i.e. a Royal title). The new regiment's geographic title was taken from that previously used by the 84th, whose 1st battalion had been formed in York and 2nd battalion in Lancaster.

The collar badge that was adopted by the new regiment was the Indian Tiger that was awarded to the 65th Regiment of Foot for their distinguished services in India, surmounted by the combined roses of York and Lancaster of the 84th. If you look carefully at your photo you can just about make it out (see enclosed image). His head dress is the glengarry that was adopted as undress wear by all the infantry less the Guards, in 1874, and the post 1881 badge that he wears was basically a circlet representing the order of the garter with the combined rose within and all surmounted by the Victorian crown.

On his left sleeve he has a badge of crossed rifles that indicate that he was a marksman, for which he received extra pay, and below that are three good conduct badges (inverted stripes) that demonstrate that he has completed 12 years of unblemished service, a not inconsiderable feat at a time of hard drinking and hard fighting men.

Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the York & Lancs were in Egypt and eligible for the Khedive Star and from what Martin says it seems likely that your relative was in the 2nd Battalion, previously the 84th Regt. It is also quite likely that as an ex Regular soldier living in NS that he re-enlisted in a Canadian contingent to fight in the 2nd Anglo/Boer War.

Here are the 2nd Battalions movement's over the relevant period:

1881.07.01 2nd Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment
<1881> Curragh
1882 Egypt
1882.10 England
1883.10 Bermuda
1886 Nova Scotia: Halifax
1888 West Indies
1891 South Africa
1893 Matabeleland
1894 South Africa
1896 Rhodesia
1897 Mashonaland
1897.01 at sea (embarked at Cape Town) ship: Warren Hastings (5 coys)
1897.01.14 Réunion wrecked off Saint-Philippe
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby crimea1854 » 05 Apr 2014 07:12

Norman

I've extracted the following from his record, but still think it would be worth getting a copy:

Aged 22 when he enlisted in Doncaster in November 1874, born Donoghmore, Newry, Co.Down, Ireland, trade labourer, Next of Kin given as brother, Samuel and nephew William, physical description; 5' 7.5'' tall, florid complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair - Discharged 9 Dec 1896, trade tailor having served 21 yrs 278 days, character exemplary, intended place of residence, Chester, Lunnenburg Co, Halifax NS.

Home 28/11/74 - 4/8/82
Egypt 3/8/82 - 6/11/82
Home 7/11/82 - 16/10/83
Bermuda 17/10/83 - 22/10/86
Halifax 23/10/86 - 20/9/88
West Indies 1/10/88 - 27/3/91
South Africa 28/3/91 - 15/9/94
Home 16/9/94 - 9/12/96

In addition to his campaign medals he was also awarded the Long Service Good Conduct Medal.

Martin
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby cumartium » 05 Apr 2014 11:26

crimea1854 wrote:Norman

I've extracted the following from his record, but still think it would be worth getting a copy:

Aged 22 when he enlisted in Doncaster in November 1874, born Donoghmore, Newry, Co.Down, Ireland, trade labourer, Next of Kin given as brother, Samuel and nephew William, physical description; 5' 7.5'' tall, florid complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair - Discharged 9 Dec 1896, trade tailor having served 21 yrs 278 days, character exemplary, intended place of residence, Chester, Lunnenburg Co, Halifax NS.

Home 28/11/74 - 4/8/82
Egypt 3/8/82 - 6/11/82
Home 7/11/82 - 16/10/83
Bermuda 17/10/83 - 22/10/86
Halifax 23/10/86 - 20/9/88
West Indies 1/10/88 - 27/3/91
South Africa 28/3/91 - 15/9/94
Home 16/9/94 - 9/12/96

In addition to his campaign medals he was also awarded the Long Service Good Conduct Medal.

Martin

Thanks again, Martin. What is the procedure to obtain a copy?
Norman
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby Frogsmile » 05 Apr 2014 11:59

cumartium wrote:
Frogsmile wrote:
cumartium wrote:Researching George Neil:
This soldier, George Neil, is my great aunt's husband. She was born in Newfoundland (where I am now) and went to Nova Scotia in her young years where she met and married George. Oral tradition has it that he was in the Boer War. What I know about him is as follows: This is his picture. Lately I acquired a copy of his death certificate indicating that he was born in England in 1848 and died at Halifax on 24 Mar 1925, age 77 and that he lived in Nova Scotia for 30 years. (Where was he before that?) My aunt came back to Newfoundland and married again. I am hoping that someone can identify the uniform. The medal on the right may be the Khedive's Star. The photo was taken by WM.NORTMAN - Halifax, NS

The Project Gutenburg Ebook of South Africa and Boer-British War Vol 1. By Castel l Hopkins and Murat Halstead has an official list of the Canadian Contingents in South Africa.
It does have the name George Neil; however, he is listed as
Neil, G. 5th R.C.A. as a member of the "A" COMPANY, BRITISH COLUMBIA AND MANITOBA.

Thank you very much.


And thank you very much, Frogsmile. I believe that is my uncle George.
Norman


I am glad to help Norman and have been able to find out some additional facts that might help you to date the photo.

It seems that when the new regiment was formed the two battalions could not agree upon a combined collar badge until July 1896. Before that date just the plain Indian Tiger of the old 65th was obliged to be worn by both battalions, much to the chagrin, of the 2nd Battalion (old 84th), as it omitted their old badge of the combined rose. It is that Tiger badge (see enclosed) that your uncle George is wearing in the photo. It seems unlikely that the 2nd Battalion wore the new badge with the combined rose (as per previous post) until they reached India in 1898.

It also appears that he was lucky in missing the foundering of the troopship the Warren Hastings, in which, together with 5 companies of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, 5 companies of the 2nd Battalion York & Lancs were being transported in 1897:

On 6 January 1897 the troopship RIMS Warren Hastings left Cape Town (South Africa) bound for Mauritius with 993 passengers At 2.20 a.m. on 14 January, the Warren Hastings, eight miles off course, steaming at full speed, in pitch darkness and pouring rain, ran straight into the rocks on the coastline of Réunion. The ship stuck fast, allowing time for the troops to fall in below decks without noise and in perfect order. At 4 a.m. the ship’s captain ordered disembarkation to begin by rope ladders from the bows, intending not to disembark the women and children until daybreak. However, at 4.20 a.m. the ship began to list badly so he ordered the men to stand-fast while the women, children and sick were helped off the ship. Subsequently, as the position of the ship became even more critical, men clambered ashore as best they could, with many being saved from the sea by their comrades. By 5.30 a.m. all the troops were ashore. Later, some of the baggage was recovered. Miraculously, in an incident reflecting great credit on the discipline and behaviour of the troops, only two Indian members of the crew were lost. After being cared for very well by the French at Réunion, the passengers boarded another ship, maybe a trifle nervously, to complete their passage to Mauritius.

The story is told in more detail here: http://www.krrcassociation.com/archives ... stings.pdf

It was the policy then for only a half battalion at a time to travel on a troopship, in case it foundered and the entire regiment (with families) was lost.

As he was discharged from the Home establishment in 1896, he cannot have been involved in the wreck, as he had left the 2nd battalion beforehand on posting 'Home', where he then completed his 'colour service' (full term of engagement).
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby Sheffsteve » 06 Apr 2014 13:27

It can be downloaded from the Find My Past genealogy website.

http://www.findmypast.co.uk/army-servic ... rch.action
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby Frogsmile » 07 Apr 2014 12:47

The 1st Battalion were in Cork (Ireland) in 1894 and 1895 and moved to Colchester in 1896, the year that he was discharged.

As he was reaching the end of his colour service, it seems quite likely that he spent the last 2-years of his service at the Regimental Depot in Pontefract, although if he did go to the 1st Battalion in Ireland, it would have given him the chance to say his farewells to family before going to Canada.
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby cumartium » 04 Dec 2014 21:01

Thanks again for your help, I recently found another picture of George. He looks to be younger here.
Norman Bull
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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby roconn » 09 Dec 2014 23:52

Cumartium:

Your ancestor's time in the Y & L was certainly an interesting period --- Frogsmile's illustration of the newly minted badge with the Tiger and Rose -- that design gave rise to the rather jolly nickname of the "Cat & Cabbage"

Many years later in 1960's when the Y & L were supporting the Swaziland local government in a "showing the flag'' exercise the Y & L were given a very wide berth by locals as it was whispered that they were a regiment of extremely naughty soldiers who were thus sent to S Africa to 'make peace' rather than 'keep the peace'.

Of course this was perception rather than fact

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Re: Researching George Neil

Postby Frogsmile » 17 Jan 2017 23:39

Subject: Researching George Neil

Frogsmile wrote:
cumartium wrote:Thanks again for your help, I recently found another picture of George. He looks to be younger here.
Norman Bull


I've only just seen this reply Norman, he is not younger, but actually older, as it shows him when promoted and a sergeant. Not only is he a sergeant but he is the battalion tailor and thus a third class staff sergeant, his status being indicated by the cap he wears and a thin line of gold piping on collar and cuffs (replacing the usual white). More importantly, he has clearly changed regiment, as he no longer has white collar and cuffs and his badges, both cap and collar are not York&Lancs. If you can scan and post a larger picture I should be able to ID his unit.

I am almost certain that he has joined the short lived 'Royal Northern (or perhaps the 'Lancashire') Reserve Regiment', one of a range of infantry (and cavalry) regiments formed entirely from veterans who volunteered for one year of active service during the 2nd Anglo/Boer War in return for a £22 Bounty. They were all older men and used entirely to form garrison troops at 'Home' in order to free regular battalions from garrison service to go to South Africa. After the war these battalions were disbanded and the men released, but it was decided to form a Royal Garrison Reserve Regiment (RGRR) for similar purposes in overseas garrisons.

I will need to check, but it might be that one of the garrisons was Canada, or Nova Scotia. Of these regiments, three were formed from 'Northern', 'Lancashire' and 'Home Counties, units. All wore the Royal coat of arms (for general service) as cap and collar badges and were given the unit prefix 'Royal' which enabled the dark blue 'facings' (collar and cuffs) that he has in the photo. It seems almost certain that the RGRR wore the same insignia. Alternatively, perhaps he volunteered and completed his service in Britain and then used the £22 to fund his passage to Canada after his final discharge from the army.

Afternote: Eureka! Sure enough the 5th Battalion of the RGRR was formed on 1st March 1902 and embarked (SS Aurania) to garrison Nova Scotia on 20th September in the same year. The battalion returned to Liverpool on 24th November 1905 (SS Canada) and was disbanded on 31st December that year. The question is whether he joined a Reserve Regiment in Britain and subsequently enlisted with the RGRR there, or whether he was perhaps already in Nova Scotia and enlisted there.
For further detail see: http://www.nickmetcalfe.co.uk/the-royal ... -regiment/
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