Notes: Neill Dubh was also known as "Black Neill" and as Neill of Ardelay, Ardelay having been the McNeill estate of his grandfather on the isle of Gigha, Scotland. According to the history of the McNeill Clan written in 1985 by the 45th Chief of McNeill Clan, Neill Dubh had a brother named Archibald who was executed for his support of Charles "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Stewart. This Archibald had a son named Daniel who came to the Cape Fear settlement about 1760 and bought land there; one of Daniel's descendants was James McNeill Johnson, an attorney in Aberdeen, NC. Neill is found in a contract entered into on 4 April 1718 as a partner in the Gigha Fishing Company with Daniel McNeill of Taynish among several others, to catch and dress fish for sale and distribution in Scotland and abroad.
His exact birth year is unknown but the 'accepted' date of Neill Dubh's birth is 1699, though I believe it was perhaps as much as ten years earlier. Would he have been made a partner in a large fishing venture at the age of 19? If, as stated by Malcolm Fowler, Neill's son "Bluff Hector'' settled the Bluff in 1742 (source for this date is unknown) then "Bluff Hector" would have to have had the maturity and experience to manage such a property and that alone should place his birth around 1710 or 1715. Moreover, if oral tradition is true and Bluff Hector did indeed remain behind at the Bluff in 1736 when the first scouts for the colony returned to Scotland, Hector would have to have been even older; but I question whether Bluff Hector was the Hector McNeill who was left behind at the Bluff. There was one other Hector McNeill with the colony and it appears he remained behind. That other Hector McNeill was named "Carver Hector" McNeill to distinquish him from "Bluff Hector" since he owned so much land on Carvers Creek. A letter from Scotland dated 1737 to Alexander McAllister in Bladen County shows that Laughlin and Margaret Johnston McNeill were anxious to know about their son Hector who had settled in Bladen County in 1736.
"Bluff Hector" was Neill Dubh's oldest son, and with Bluff Hector's birth year as early as 1715, my estimation of Neill Dubh's birth is about 1690. Grizella bore their youngest child in 1740 (women at this time often bore children up to age 45, to their peril) thus Grizella's birth year is more in keeping with 1695-1700. Neill Dubh married Grizella Campbell in Scotland well before 1728 (not in 1739 as is stated by various researchers), the birthdate given on the tombstone of their son Duncan at Old Bluff Presbyterian Church cemetery in Cumberland County. If, as it appears, the couple used the old Scottish naming pattern, Duncan was likely their third son. The last paragraph of Bluff Hector's 1761 will names two brothers, Duncan and Archibald, and they traditionally had two sisters Negalena and Flora McNeill whose descendants are well documented. To date, almost nothing concrete is known of brother Archibald except that Bluff Hector bequeathed him half of his Taylor Hole estate, 320 acres that were to return to the heirs of brother Duncan, the will's executor, after Archibald's death. This arrangement suggests something about Archibald that precluded his inheritance of brother Hector's property, or a less-than-agreeable relationhip between the brothers; perhaps Archibald was simply unmarried and childless. Archibald was likely Neill's second son who would have been named after Grizella's father, Archibald Campbell. Their daughter Negalena is said in all family histories to have been Neill and Grizella's youngest child and daughter, born in 1740; she married Robert Stewart and an Archibald McNeill is living with Stewart in the 1774 Bladen County tax list. They may have been living near or on land Stewart bought on Colleys Swamp near Turkey Point in Bladen in 1773. Neill Dhub perhaps had more children who died young or were too young to live anywhere but with their parents in New Hanover County in 1740. Malcolm Fowler claimed that Neill received a licence in 1741 to operate a tavern at the little settlement of Brunswick miles below the settlement that was to become Wilmington, NC (and that Alexander McAllister ran one in Wilmington). It appears Neill may never have lived in the Cross Creek area though it appears he owned land there. "Bluff Hector" settled at the Bluff supposedly about 1742, the Bluff having been several miles upriver from Cross Creek but just below Silver Run Creek on the river's east side; he acquired the nearby Taylors Hole estate in 1759.
Neill McNeill is mentioned in existing court minutes (years between 1741 and 1769 are missing) of New Hanover County only twice, in 1741: The first instance is for being called and sworn in to be a grand juror and, the second, for being fined for failure to show up for that duty.