O'Neill, Neill (DNB00)

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O'NEILL, Sir NEILL or NIALL (1658?–1690), soldier, born late in December 1657 or early in January 1658, was the eldest son of Sir Henry O'Neill of Shane's Castle, co. Antrim, who was created baronet of Killelagh on 23 Feb. 1666, and his wife, Eleanor Talbot, sister of Richard Talbot, earl of Tyrconnel [q. v.] He must be distinguished from Niall Og O'Neill, a well-known Ulster tory (cf. Prendergast, Ireland from the Restoration to the Revolution, pp. 101–2). In 1687 O'Neill raised a regiment of dragoons for the service of James II; on 10 May 1689 he was sent with his dragoons into Down and Antrim, where he signalised himself by his bravery. He was also present at the siege of Derry early in 1689, and was afterwards despatched to oppose a detachment of Schomberg's army in Sligo. On 25 March 1690 he had a skirmish with an English force at Hacketstown, co. Meath, when he was wounded in the thigh, but quickly recovered (An Exact Journal of the Victorious Progress of their Majesties' Forces in Ireland, 1690, p. 4). About the same time he was appointed lord lieutenant of Armagh. At the battle of the Boyne he was placed with his dragoons at the ford of Rosnaree, a little below the bridge of Slane, which had been previously broken down; the object was to prevent Schomberg crossing and attacking the flank of James II's army. For some time O'Neill defended the ford with conspicuous bravery, more than once charging through the river and beating back Schomberg's troops. At length he was wounded and his troops gave way. He was carried from the battlefield to Dublin, and thence to Waterford, where, owing to the carelessness of his surgeons, he died of his wound on 8 July, aged thirty-two years and six months. He was buried in the church of the Franciscan abbey at Waterford, where his tomb is still extant. He was attainted in 1691, and his estates confiscated.

O'Neill married Frances, daughter of Caryll, third viscount Maryborough [see under Molyneux, Sir Richard, Viscount Maryborough]. By her he had four or five daughters, but no sons, and he was succeeded by his brother, Sir Daniel O'Neill. His widow, who survived until 1732, succeeded in recovering his estates in 1700.

[A Light to the Blind, or a Brief Narration of the Warr in Ireland, among the Earl of Fingall's MSS. in Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. pt. v. pp. 133–5, 2nd Rep. App. p. 530; Macpherson's Original Papers, i. 226, 339; Memoirs of Ireland, pp. 86, 122; Somers Tracts, xi. 411; O'Kelly's Macariæ Excidium, p. 352; O'Conor's Military Memoirs, p. 107; Irish Compendium, 1756, p. 288; Clarke's Hist. of James II, ii. 382, 395–6; Rapin's Hist. of England, iii. 137; Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, iii. 256; O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees, ed. 1887, i. 726–7, 737; D'Alton's Army Lists of James II, pp. 99, 299–304; O'Callaghan's Irish Brigades, pp. 130–1; Cusack's Irish Nation, p. 906; Macaulay's Hist. ii. 190.]

A. F. P.