The STRONGs of Ulster, Ireland, Chapter 4

The "STRONG Family" section of this site is divided into 13 chapters and 9 appendices. Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the "Sitemap" page. Note that the chapters develop the story of our family and the appendices contain supporting data… for example the Descendancy Report in Appendix 1 with BDM records and photos of family members.

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Robert STRONG’s daughter: Agnes STRONG & her Descendants.


I am most grateful for detailed data provided by the late Jill CARGILL, on Agnes STRONG’s NEILL family and their descendants. Jill was married to a g-grandson of Agnes NEILL (née STRONG), and commenced her research on the NEILL descendants before she extended her work to the STRONGs. Jill CARGILL told a story about a backyard bonfire of photos and records when Agnes died.... some families are hard to research!

NEILL Family GraveNEILL Family Grave: sadly deteriorated.
Photo: Katherine Hart, 2006. Larger image here.

I had a difficult search in 2002 for the NEILL family plot (Sect E, Row 57, Plot 174-175), in Purewa Cemetery. See a labelled satellite view here and a plan of the cemetery here. The grave was found at the edge of the "Old Section" of the cemetery in rather sad condition. The plot is pictured at the left, Photo: March 2006 as a "random act of kindness" by Katherine Hart, a transcription of the gravestones is given below. The cement covering was cracked, tilting the monuments at quite an angle. The surfaces of the inscriptions had deteriorated, making photography very difficult. However, the gravestones were very fine examples of the monumental mason’s art of ornate decoration, as well as being outstanding examples of the Victorian tradition of biblical quotes and imagery. Restoration of these impressive grave stones and the plot would be worthwhile .... but who to ask?

After Jill Cargill’s death, I have had difficulty in finding present-day NEILL descendants who are interested in their family history. They must be out there, but I don't know their contact details! Consequently, it has been difficult to locate early family photos or personal records to find what sort of people the NEILLs and their descendants were, and what life they led. I have developed a limited story of Agnes and Alexander, but the information on their children is even more limited. If you can help in this search please contact me.


Agnes STRONG & Alexander NEILL


Agnes STRONG was born on 21 May 1852 in Belfast, Ireland, the daughter of Robert STRONG’s first wife Jane ROBINSON (c1830-26 Mar 1861). On 19 May 1874 when Agnes was 21, she married a 22 year old engineer, Alexander NEILL, in the Frederick St Methodist Church Belfast, Ireland. Alexander was born about Jul 1851 in Newtownards, County Down, Ireland. At the date of their marriage on 19 May 1874, Agnes lived at 120 Dover St Belfast and Alexander lived at 64 North Boundary St Belfast.


Ten days after their marriage, Agnes and Alexander probably emigrated on 29 May 1874 from the London Docks, England, on the ship ‘Carisbrooke Castle’. That voyage ended on 2 Sep 1874 at Lyttleton, NZ (near Christchurch) after 93 days. Agnes' parents emigrated to NZ later on 14 Dec 1874. Unfortunately a search of the NZ Archives of that ship’s passenger list did not list the NEILLs. It was suggested that they could have paid for their own passage and thus did not appear on the list of passengers recorded at Christchurch. I checked this suggestion in the ‘Carisbrooke Castle’ passenger list (Archive Reference# Im-CH 4/126). On one of the pages, the printed heading "Assisted Emigration" was changed by scoring out the word "Assisted", and beneath a new heading was made: "Full Paying Passengers". On that page there were only two families .... the McPHERSONs in Steerage, and the MORRIS family in a cabin. Furthermore, there was no Agnes NEILL in the "Assisted Emigrants". However, family oral tradition still says that the Neills emigrated on the ‘Carisbrooke Castle’! In further support of the NEILLs travelling on the May 1874 passage of the ‘Carisbrooke Castle’, their son Robert Carisbrook NEILL was probably named after that ship, in emigrant tradition, though dropping the final "e". The NEILLs were also in the right place and at the right time ..... in the Christchurch area five months after the ‘Carisbrooke Castle’ landed. This is shown by the birth of their daughter Adelaide NEILL on 21 Feb 1875 in Little River, Christchurch. Furthermore, Alexander NEILL was then on a 1875 Electoral Roll in Palmerston St, Westport on the west coast of the South Island.

Employment and Residence
45 Wood St Ponsonby45 Wood St Ponsonby. Photo: CoreLogic 2020

What was Alexander the engineer doing in Little River and Westport areas? Perhaps he was responsible for timber mill machinery and mill infrastructure, in view of his later employment in the mill industry in Auckland and eventual mill ownership. Presumably, he followed the timber mills, since the electoral rolls next record Alexander NEILL in the Coromandel Peninsula, North Island at Waikauri, Whangapoua. He remained there from 1876 to 1879 where his daughter Emily Victoria (Cis) NEILL was born on 27 Jun 1876 and his son Alexander Wellesley NEILL was born on 12 Sep 1877. They then moved to Auckland in 1879 where his daughter Florence Adeline NEILL was born on 21 Aug 1879 in Fernlie (Fernleigh) St., Ponsonby, Auckland. Alexander and Agnes remained in Auckland the rest of their lives.

The first more detailed record of Alexander’s employment was in a report by the NZ Herald concerning a fire on 10 Jan 1885 at the NZ Timber Company: "Alexander Neil (sic) another employee, got thrown into the sea, and lost his watch and chain out of his waistcoat pocket in the transit." By 1898 Alexander had developed his timber mill interests to the extent that the 1898 directory listed him as a mill-owner, living at 45 Wood St Ponsonby. Alexander must have diversified his interests, since Watts NZ Shipping Index stated that Alexander owned half the vessel "Bee" from 1897- 1902. Alexander described himself in nearly all the directories and electoral rolls as an engineer. Alexander also accumulated wealth in real estate, where he would buy a house, live in it for a while, buy a new house and move into that, while renting out the original purchase. It also appeared he subdivided some properties. Electoral rolls and directories show his houses were located in Ponsonby, Auckland, in order .... Fernleigh St, Wellesley St, Ryle St, George St, 21 Arthur St, 45 Wood St. This last address was intermittently the family home from 1898 until 1909 when Alexander and Agnes were permanently there until they died.

A postcard from Ireland ...Postcard to Master Robert STRONGE
"…send you a real Irish Bumbee"

Their son Robert Carisbrook NEILL then remained in the family home until he died on 8 Feb 1965. The electoral rolls also give hints about when Alexander retired and / or became incapacitated. In 1925 Alexander did not have an occupation, and in 1928 Agnes was listed, but no Alexander. At this stage, Alexander may have gone to a nursing home, since just before his death he was diagnosed as suffering from senile dementia and in very frail health.

Family Contacts

Agnes and Alexander kept in contact with their NZ STRONG family .... they were marriage witnesses for Mary STRONG in 1906, and Joseph STRONG in 1893. Perhaps Agnes was a good letter writer to her family in Sydney, NSW Australia? I have a postcard (probably from Agnes on a tour to Ireland) franked from Belfast, with the date June 7, 1906 to my (father) Master Robert STRONGE, 52 Palmer St Woolloomooloo, Sydney, NSW. It said: "Dear Robbie, send you a real Irish Bumbee (sic). Hope you are all well as it leaves us at present. A.N." See the photo of the card with an insect with fold out wings.

Death and Burial
Grave of Alexander & Agnes NEILL. Grave of Alexander & Agnes NEILL
Photo: PD Strong, 2002. Larger image here.

Alexander died in the Mental Hospital Avondale, Auckland NZ, on 24 Dec 1933; he was 82. He was buried on 26 Dec 1933 in Purewa Cemetery Auckland. Agnes died in 18 Akiraho St., Mt Eden, Auckland, on 20 Jan 1942; she was 89. She died of heart failure and had chronic congestive myocarditis for 2 years. She was buried on 21 Jan 1942 in Purewa Cemetery. My transcription of their gravestone is:

"In loving memory of our dear husband and father Alexander Neill who passed away 24th Dec 1933 in his 83rd year. Also our dear wife and mother Agnes Neill who passed away 20 Jan 1942 in her 90th year. 'Safe in the arms of Jesus'."

Note the deep religious sentiment expressed in the inscriptions on Agnes and Alexander’s grave as well as their children’s grave shown here.

NEILL Children. Photo: March 2006 by AnonGrave of NEILL children.
Photo: Katherine Hart, 2006
Larger image here.

The adjacent grave held their children. My transcription is: "Olive Elizabeth, beloved younger daughter of Mr & Mrs A. Neill, died March 18, 1909, aged 23 years, "Not mine own, Jesus I belong to thee". Also Agnes Mabel, second youngest daughter, died Jany 28th 1911, aged 28 years. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling". Also, Alexander W. Neill, born Sept 12th 1877, died Dec 11 1914, aged 37 years, "Abide with me". Robert Carisbrook Neill, died February 8th 1965, aged 78 years." Photos of the NEILL gravestones have been difficult due to reflections, deterioration and their tilt.

Alexander’s Estate

Alexander’s Will provided very well for all his children and his wife. It said that "To wife Agnes NEILL permit to reside in house property at 45 Wood St Ponsonby with furniture etc during her life". ALSO "To wife Agnes NEILL one half of the rentals of the properties hereinafter mentioned and the other half to the son or daughter who will receive the property on the death of my wife." The valuation of Estate for Stamp Duty was £7,737.3.7. Each child ultimately received 1-4 houses each! The properties, all of which are in the suburbs of Auckland, were:

  1. #45 Wood St Ponsonby
  2. #9 Ryle St Ponsonby
  3. #21 Arthur St Ponsonby
  4. #19 Ponsonby Terrace Ponsonby
  5. #30 & #32 Summer St Ponsonby
  6. #5 & #7 Ryle St Ponsonby
  7. #45 Wood St Ponsonby
  8. #140 Springs Rd, Point Chevalier
  9. #16 & #18 Fernleigh St Ponsonby

An example of an inheritance was son Robert Carisbrook NEILL who received 4 houses to occupy during his lifetime, receive the net rentals, and at his death to convert into money and divide equally amongst all of the grandchildren.


The Children of Agnes and Alexander

Agnes and Alexander had the following children:

Sickness in the Family

In 1861 Robert lost his first wife Jane STRONG (nee Robinson) and their 2yr and 4yr old sons? Was there an epidemic? Robert William STRONG said the reason was "tuberculosis". He commented that Robert’s first wife died of TB and this complaint affected some of her children and her grandchildren". Note that one of the surviving daughters of the first marriage, Agnes, eventually died only of heart failure at age 89, but perhaps had passed this disease on to her children..... at least 3 of Agnes' children died of TB. Note that tuberculosis was also known as wasting disease (the Greek term is phthisis), or consumption, terms used relating to the causes of death of the NEILL children.

1. Adelaide NEILL
Adelaide NEILLAdelaide NEILL
Courtesy J. Cargill

Born on 21 Feb 1875 in Little River, Christchurch. Adelaide died in Auckland on 2 Jan 1954; she was 78. Buried in Purewa Cemetery. On 16 Mar 1898 when Adelaide was 23, she married Charles GALLIE, son of Philip GALLIE & Elizabeth Mary MOLLET, in the Primitive Methodist Church, Franklin Rd Auckland.

Charles was born on 14 Mar 1867 in Auckland, and died in Auckland on 29 Jun 1949; he was 82. Buried in Purewa Cemetery. The 1928 Electoral Roll of Roskill listed Adelaide and Charles at 45 Queens St., Onehunga (Auckland). Subsequently, Probate documents showed that Charles and Adelaide lived at Matakoke and Charles was a farmer.

Electoral rolls showed that Adelaide and Charles lived at Neilson St, Te Papapa in 1919, and subsequently at 45 Queen's Avenue Roskill at least from 1928 to 1949. Charles occupations were various: in 1919…retired; 1928…public servant; 1935 to 1936…farmer.

They had the following children:

  1. Elizabeth Agnes (Popsy) (1898-1992)
  2. Raymond Charles (Ray) (1903-1978)
  3. Philip Neill (1906-1994)
  4. Adelaide Marcella (Marcie) (1909-2001)
  5. Rollo Wesley William (Wes) (1918-1943)
2. Emily Victoria (Cis) NEILL

Born on 27 Jun 1876 in Whangapoua, Coramandel. Emily Victoria (Cis) died in Auckland on 11 Jun 1964; she was 87. Buried in Purewa Cemetery. On 6 Jan 1904 when Emily Victoria (Cis) was 27, she married Henry MILLER, son of Henry MILLER & Ellen RUSSELL, in the Primitive Methodist Church, Franklin Rd, Auckland. Henry died on 7 Mar 1920; he was 49. Buried in Purewa Cemetery.

Electoral rolls showed that before Cis married she lived at Wood St in 1902. After she married, Cis & Henry lived in in Ryle St in 1905, then in her father's property at 30 Summer St. Ponsonby from 1905 to 1954 (Charles died in 1920). Charles occupation was a tailor… from 1905 to 1919.

They had the following children:

  1. Victor Henry Alexander (Vic) (1904-1991)
  2. Rita Olive (1906-1983)
  3. Gladys Emily (1916-1990)
3. Alexander Wellesley NEILL

Born on 12 Sep 1877 in Whangapoua, Coramandel. Alexander Wellesley died in Costley Home, Epsom, Auckland, on 11 Dec 1914; he was 37. His death certificate gave his occupation as farmer. Cause of death: Primary cause of death was pulmonary and laryngeal tuberculosis for 5 years. Buried on 12 Dec 1914 in Purewa. Methodist. Alexander Wellesley married Margaret KNOX, at some time between 1905-1911.

The 1902 and 1905 electoral rolls stated that Alexander Wellesley (carpenter) lived at 45 Wood St. On the 1911 Electoral roll he was listed as a carpenter at 7 Mira Street with Margaret (married). No Children.

4. Florence Adeline NEILL

Born on 21 Aug 1879 in Fernlie (Fernleigh) St., Ponsonby, Auckland. Florence Adeline died in Auckland on 5 Jul 1957; she was 77. Buried on 8 Jul 1957 in Purewa Cemetery. At the time of her death in 1957, she lived with Mrs H Good, Northumberland Ave, Takapuna, NZ. On 6 Jan 1904 when Florence Adeline was 24, she married Charles William Gate SMITH, son of George SMITH & Esther Eliza WHITCOMBE, in the Primitive Methodist Church, Franklin Rd, Auckland. Charles was born about 1879 in Auckland, NZ. Charles William Gate died on 2 Jun 1964; he was 85. Buried on 4 Jun 1964 in Purewa Cemetery. Resided in 7 Ryle St.Ponsonby, Auckland, in 1957. Occupation: Bootmaker. Florence’s occupation at the time of her marriage was a housekeeper.

The Electoral rolls showed that Florence Adeline (tailoress) lived at Wood St (parents' home) in 1902. After Florence and Charles married, they lived at 7 Ryle St… at least from 1905 to 1949. Charles' occupation was shown as bootmaker in 1917, 1919 and 1919. His residence was next door 5 Ryle St in 1949… perhaps his shop?

Following her father’s death in 1933, his Will provided that "To daughter Florence Adeline SMITH to receive net rents from 9 Ryle St Ponsonby and apply this towards the education, maintenance and advancement in life of her son Allwyn SMITH. and then to convey the property to him when he turns 21. "ALSO that "To daughter Florence Adeline SMITH two houses, #5 & 7 Ryle St Ponsonby, on lot 4, allotment 20, sect 8."

They had the following children:

  1. Thelma Florence (1905-)
  2. Myrtle Agnes (1906-1979)
  3. Charles Alwyn Alexander (Lal / Charlie) (1913-1995)
5. Agnes Mabel NEILL

Born on 28 May 1882 in Fernlie St., Ponsonby, Auckland. Agnes Mabel died in 45 Wood St, Ponsonby, Auckland, on 28 Jan 1911; she was 28. The cause of death was pulmonary phthisis for 1 year. Buried on 30 Jan 1911 in Purewa Cemetery. On 3 Jun 1908 when Agnes Mabel was 26, she married Charles John DONALD, son of James DONALD & Mary CONNER, in St John’s Church, Ponsonby, NZ. Charles was born in c1876 in Melbourne, Victoria. Occupation: Settler, farmer.

Before she married, the Electoral Rolls showed she lived at Arthur St in 1905. After she married, the 1908 electoral roll stated that Agnes Mabel Donald lived at 7 Mira St. Ponsonby. There was no mention of her husband. Her death notice in 1911 in the Auckland Star said: “Donald, Agnes Mabel, on 30 January 1911, at Purewa, beloved daughter of Mr & Mrs Neill. Age 28 years. If God be for me who can be against me.” They had one child:

  1. Mary Irene (1910-)
6. Olive Elizabeth NEILL

Born on 28 May 1885 in Ryle St., Ponsonby, Auckland. Olive Elizabeth died in Auckland on 18 Mar 1909 when she lived at Wakefield St; she was 23. Buried in Purewa Cemetery. Olive Elizabeth’s burial record lists the primary cause of death as cancer. The 1908 electoral roll in Auckland Central stated that Olive (spinster) lived at 21 Arthur St. Ponsonby (One of her parents' houses). No Children.

7. Robert Carisbrook NEILL

Born on 26 Feb 1887 in Rhyle St., Ponsonby, Auckland. Robert Carisbrook died in Auckland on 8 Feb 1965; he was 77. Buried in Purewa Cemetery. Occupation: Carpenter.

The electoral rolls showed that Robert Carisbrook lived in his parents homes as follows: 1908 at 21 Arthur St. Ponsonby, then 1911 to 1963 at 45 Wood St. Ponsonby. The Rolls showed he was a carpenter from at least 1911 to 1957. He was then recorded as retired in 1957 and 1963.

The Enlistment Roll for World War l showed that Roger Carisbrook was declared not fit for service, due to impaired constitution and debility. It is is possible that since his siblings Alexander Wellesley and Agnes Mabel had tuberculosis as a cause of death in their death certificates, and Olive Elizabeth’s burial record lists cancer as a primary cause of death, then Roger with his impaired constitution and debility also had TB? Roger was the principal beneficiary from his father, Alexander NEILL’s Will This provided that

"To son Robert Carisbrook NEILL houses #45 Wood St, Ponsonby on lot 27, allotment 20, sect 8 AND #140 Springs Rd, Point Chevalier, Auckland on lot1, part lot 173, sect 10, Auckland AND #’s 16 & 18 Fernleigh St Ponsonby on lot 39 and part lot 38 of allotments 18 & 20 of sect 8 of the suburbs of Auckland. To occupy during his lifetime, receive the net rentals, and at his death to convert into money and divide equally amongst all of the grandchildren."

No Children.

The Story Continues