Two generations of Neale family members spent much, or in some cases all, of their lives in India. This page is a sketch of those generations, and some of the families with which they associated and into which they often married. Although some facts were known, the details of this story would have lain undiscovered were it not for the superb research efforts of David Atkinson, a family historian residing in New Zealand, who, whilst researching his own family, discovered an article in an obscure publication dating from 1857/8. The article was an autobiographical travelogue written anonymously and with all main characters denoted only by the initial letter of their last names. Astoundingly, David was able to decipher this, and reveal that the mystery author was a member of the Neale family - Frederick Arthur Neale, born in 1821 in Madras. The wealth of information in the serialised article added immeasurably to our knowledge of the Neales in India, and a great debt of gratitude is owed to David for his brilliant research. I am also grateful to Geri Buurman-Dent in Holland for much information on the Dent family; and to Judy Wright in Canada for information on the Sewell family.

Prior to the commencement of Frederick Arthur's story in 1828/9 we know that at least four members of the Neale family - adult children of the Rev. William Neale of Essendon in Hertfordshire - went to India, and settled in Madras, in the early 1790s.

Elisabeth

The eldest of the four, Elisabeth, born 1764, married in Madras on the 15th of May, 1798. Her husband, Richard Chase, was a widower, who, originally an officer in the East India Company army, had become a very successful merchant, and was Mayor of Madras the following year. During his time in the army he had been taken prisoner, along with many other Europeans by the French trained, fanatically anti-Christian, Moslem ruler, Tippu Sultan. The prisoners were held, in disgusting conditions, laden with chains, at Seringapatam, for almost four years. A life-long friend Richard made at that time was a fellow Lieutenant, Thomas Bowser, later General Sir Thomas Bowser, who became a frequent and welcome visitor to Elisabeth and Richard's home.

It is believed that Richard's daughter, Rebecca, was of his marriage to Elisabeth, but that is yet to be confirmed. The couple eventually retired to England, where Elisabeth died on 2 April, 1820, in the large house inherited by Richard from his father, at 7 Kensington Square.

Richard lived until 1834, dividing his time between Kensington Square and his country home, Horsted Place, in Sussex.

 

Harriet Neale

Born 1769, Harriet married the widower Cotton Bowerbank Dent, a Senior Merchant and Member of the Madras Board of Trade, on 17 October, 1795, at Arcot, India. Although from a predominantly Naval family (his brother was Rear-Admiral Digby Dent), Cotton was one of the most successful merchants in Madras. At the time of his marriage to Harriet he was based in Arcot, set in a scenic area some sixty mile east of Madras, and home to two regiments of Cavalry. It was a lively and generally pleasant place to live, but sadly, Harriet was not able to enjoy it with Cotton for long. Less than a year after their marriage, she died a short time after giving birth to the couple's daughter, Harriet Elizabeth, on 18 September, 1796.

Cotton remarried in time, and died 21 years after Harriet, in nearby Vellore, on 11 August, 1817.

On 6 December, 1815, daughter Harriet Elizabeth married Henry Sewell - son of a naval officer and former Mayor of Madras, also called Henry, who was in fact married to Rebecca, sister of Richard Chase mentioned above.

Harriet Elizabeth returned to England after the death of Henry, and she and her daughters Elisabeth and Adelaide, stayed for some time with her Neale aunts, in Sloane Street. She later moved to Baker Street, taking in her cousin, Lady Caroline Anburey (nee Dent) to live with her and her daughters, assisted by 3 servants. Lady Anburey died there at the beginning of 1845.

Harriet Elizabeth and Henry's daughter Adelaide, mentioned above, subsequently married Edward St. John Neale, the son of Daniel Neale, (see below), on 22 December, 1847, in Brussels, Belgium.

(See Edward St. John Neale's dedicated page on this website.)

 

George Neale

George, born in 1769, joined the East India Company army, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding the 2nd brigade of the 8th Madras Light Cavalry. He died on campaign, in his camp at Ahowlah, on 28 July, 1815.

 

Daniel Neale

Daniel, the youngest of the four, was born in 1772, and - rather like George, above - little is known of his career, other than that he was an Attorney with the Supreme Court of Judicature in Madras. He married Elizabeth Buchanan, the daughter of John Beavor Buchanan, believed to be from Fintona, County Tyrone. Daniel and Elizabeth, who had 9 children, are the direct ancestors of today's family, and some of their children are described in more detail in the following text.

Both Daniel and Elizabeth died in 1827 within a short time of each other. It is entirely likely that the cause was Cholera, to which many in India fell victim - including, it is believed, a number of Neales.

In addition to the above children of the Rev. William Neale and Sarah Salmon, there were six daughters who, although they did not live in India, nonetheless contributed in an essential fashion to those who did. They were Sarah (born 1762), Mary (1766), Isabella Ann (1771), Amelia (1774), Caroline Matilda (1776), and one other, currently unknown. None of these ladies married, and they all lived together in a house in Sloane Street, which they maintained as a sort of home-from-home for all the children of their India-based relatives as they came to England for their educations.

The house was also home to older relatives who had returned after spending a large portion of their lives in India.

There was elderly bachelor Edward Dent, son of Cotton Bowerbank Dent, (noted above) by his first wife.

Edward's half-sister, Harriet Elizabeth Sewell (nee Dent) - the daughter of Cotton and Harriet Neale - whose husband, Henry Sewell Jnr., had died in India some years previously.

and Edward's cousin, Lady Caroline Anburey (nee Dent), the estranged wife of Major-General Sir Thomas Anburey, K.C.B. (Her father was Rear-Admiral Sir Digby Dent.)

Note: Anburey is also often spelt Anbury.

 

Children of Daniel Neale and Elizabeth Buchanan

Two of the children of Daniel and Elizabeth - Edward St. John James, and William Beavor Vaughan - are fully covered elsewhere on this site. Of the remainder:

 

Henry Neale

Born in Madras in 1806, Henry was sent to England in 1811, aboard the 'Indus', with his brother George, and sister Harriet, for his education, and returned in the company of his brother George, on the 'Ganges', on 22 August, 1822. He was now a 16 year-old Cadet in the East India Company army, and was promoted to Ensign before his untimely death at the age of 19, on 14 January, 1825, at Mangalore.

 

George Chase Neale

Closely echoing the short life of his brother Henry, George was also born in Madras and travelled to England in 1811 for schooling, returning, as mentioned above, in the company of his brother, in 1822, as a Cadet. His life was also sadly cut short when he died on 9 May, 1828.

 

Caroline Matilda Neale

Born at Madras in 1804, 18 year-old Caroline married 22 year-old Anstruther Cheape, of the Cheape family of Rossie, in Fifeshire. He was a Writer for the East India Company, a much sought-after first rung on the EIC ladder.

Anstruther was promoted as Assistant to the Collector and Magistrate of Bellary in 1824, but death and sadness was destined to blight their young lives. On 27 September, 1824, Caroline gave birth to twins, Anstruther Jnr., and Ellen, but Anstruther Jnr. died the same day and Ellen died aged only 4, on 17 March, 1828.

Caroline herself died at their home in Bellary just four months later on 26 July, 1828. As well as her husband, she was survived by two daughters and a son.

Two years later, when Anstruther was promoted to Assistant Judge and Joint Criminal Judge for Malabar on the west coast of India, it was decided that three of Caroline's siblings and their maternal grandmother would accompany him on the two month journey from Bellary to his new base at Tellicherry.

Anstruther's new house was in Deramapatam, just on the other side of a small river to Tellicherry. It was very commodious, and surrounded by miles of open countryside, which suited Anstruther, a sportsman with a large stud of horses and numerous dogs. His brother-in-law Frederick Neale often joined him in his hunting, and the ladies of the family enjoyed the coastal views and healthy sea air.

Unfortunately, the family's happiness was not to last, as Anstruther, returning one day from his customary afternoon hunting trip, sat down to dinner, raised his fork, then suddenly fell back dead. It was the 16th of June, 1831, and Anstruther was 30 years of age.

Eighteen years later, on 29 December, 1849, at Point de Galle in Ceylon, Anstruther and Caroline's daughter Elizabeth (Lisette), married Henry Lushington, Jnr. of the Bengal Civil Service. Of a distinguished family, Henry, later Sir Henry, succeeded his father as Baronet, and the couple lived at Aspenden Hall, in Hertfordshire, within a few short miles of the traditional Neale home, where Elizabeth's grandfather Daniel (see above) and his siblings were born and grew up.

 

Helena (Ellen) Eliza

Ellen was born in Madras in 1802, and, at the age of 21 married an army officer by the name of Edmund Conry. He already had a son - also Edmund - from his previous marriage, and Ellen had a ready-made family. Unfortunately, Edmund Snr., as a Lieut. Colonel, met an untimely death the following year at the storming of Rangoon, during the First Burmese War.

Ellen's parents, Daniel and Elizabeth, died some three years after her husband, and Ellen, as the eldest surviving member of the family - though still only in her 20s - took on the guardianship of her youngest brother, Frederick Arthur.

Their sister Jessy had recently married an officer of the Artillery, who was based near Madras, and he had the remaining members of the Neale family move in with them. After several happy months there, their recently widowed brother-in-law Anstruther Cheape (see above), took the family with him to his new position at Tellicherry. After Anstruther's untimely death, the Neale's moved into Tellicherry proper and lived for a time at the home of Anstruther's fellow judge, John Vaughan and his wife Catherine, before finding a home of their own nearby.

Whilst there, love struck again for Ellen in the form of Thomas Ebenezer Boileau, then a Zillah Judge at Bellary, and an old and close friend of the family, who was spending a week's vacation in Tellicherry. After a week of intense courtship, seeing Ellen every day, Thomas returned to Bellary, but wrote to Ellen three weeks later proposing marriage - which she delightedly accepted. The wedding was to take place at Bangalore, on 4 July, 1832, and the Neale clan duly assembled there, and were joined by Thomas's son George. After the ceremony, the bride and groom went to live in Bellary, while the main Neale group went back to live with Ellen's sister, Jessy, at St. Thomas's Mount.

Sadly, the marriage of Ellen and Thomas was to end tragically less than a year later - on 11 January, 1833 - with the death of Ellen two days after giving birth to a stillborn son.

 

Harriet Georgina

Born in Madras on 4 June, 1808, Harriet was sent to England in 1811 with her brothers Henry and George to be educated, and she returned to Madras in the company of her sister Jessy on the 'Ganges' on 17 August, 1828. She travelled around with her family, living at St. Thomas Mount, Deramapatam, and Tellicherry. It seems that love evaded her - or what was on offer didn't appeal to her - as she returned to England single, and remained so until her death at the age of 75 in St. Anne's Road, St. James's Square, London, on 24 May, 1893. She far outlived all her siblings, being the only one of her generation to live anything like the full term.

 

Mary Anne (Jessy) Neale

Jessy was born on 22 April, 1810, in Madras, and was educated in England, returning to India with her sister Harriet in 1828. Over the following year she was courted by Lieutenant Nathaniel Hill Fishe, a young Artillery officer, and they were duly married on 3 November, 1829. Jessy and her husband went to live at Artillery Headquarters, at St. Thomas Mount, just south-east of Madras. After they had settled in they sent for Jessy's remaining family, and her siblings Ellen, Harriet, Frederick, along with their maternal grandmother, moved in with them.

After a period of some months, Jessy's family left for Tellicherry with her widowed brother-in-law Anstruther, and life returned to normal for the couple.

On 11 December, 1830, Jessy gave birth to their first child, a daughter, followed almost exactly a year later by a son.

In July, 1832, Jessy and Nathaniel travelled across country to the wedding of Jessy's sister Ellen to Thomas Boileau in Bangalore, and a brief family reunion. Nathaniel was promoted Captain in October, 1838, and all seemed to be going well for the couple and their young family, but tragedy struck two years later when Jessie died, at the age of 30, at Jaulnah, on 4 September, 1840.

Three months later, on New Years Day, 1841, Nathaniel remarried - to Marrianne Ardagh, who provided him with another daughter on 15 March, 1844.

Nathaniel retired as a Colonel in 1856, and died in London, July 19, 1885, aged 78, attended by his and Jessy's son.

 

Frederick Arthur

Frederick was the youngest of the family, and as such, witnessed the trials and tribulations of the family from first hand as his care was moved from one family group to another. Born in 1821, he was, of course, looked after by his parents, Daniel and Elizabeth, until they both died six years later. He passed into the care of his widowed sister Ellen, who subsequently remarried, and, when she died in 1833, her second husband Thomas Boileau, became his guardian. As was the custom amongst many British families in India, Thomas sent Frederick to complete his education in England, where he was under the care of six of his maiden aunts.

Whilst in England, Frederick formed an enduring friendship and long-remembered affection for his elderly half-cousin, Edward Dent - the son of Cotton Bowerbank Dent, mentioned above - who also lived with Frederick's six aunts. As well as Edward, he frequently mixed with, and was influenced by, an older generation of ex-India hands, including his uncle, Richard Chase (see above), and Richard's friend, General Sir Thomas Bowser. He enjoyed the stories of their adventurous lives, and, when he returned to India at the end of his schooling, he found it difficult to comply with his guardian, Thomas Boileau's, prompts to (in effect) "Get a proper job." Thomas was doubtless thinking of a respectable career within the East India Company's Civil Service, but Frederick, after spending time with his half-cousin Edmund Conry Jnr., the captain of a trading ship, decided the sea was for him. It wasn't. After a single voyage aboard a trading vessel similar to his half-cousin's, he realised that being continually soaked, working 24 hours a day, heaving on lines, laboriously loading and unloading the vessel, etc. was not quite the glamorous life-style he had imagined it to be.

Having quit the sea from a working aspect, Frederick still enjoyed travelling in some style as a passenger, and embarked on a life of travel and adventure throughout much of the world, writing all the while, and having numerous books and articles published. It is from one such article, serialised in 1857/8, that much of the detail above is drawn.

In his own words, "I have been almost perpetually on the move, constituting a home in India, the Straits of Malacca, Sum, China, Sumatra, Australia, Southern Africa, South America, England, France, Belgium, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Asiatic and European Turkey. I have resided for months and for years in all these countries..."

Frederick eventually married - to a lady named Maria - and at the age of 40 is last seen in the records living in the Channel Islands, describing himself as an author, historian and traveller.

It is believed that he died in 1863, aged 42, and if so, his relatively short life was in keeping with the rest of his family. The average age at death of his entire generation (including his sister Harriet, who lived to be 75), was less than 38 - and amongst his five siblings who remained in India it was just 25.

My favourite passage from Frederick's writing was written in 1857, when Frederick, looking back over the years on his Indian-based extended family, wrote of Edward Dent, "... the shadow of his memory is always haunting my remembrance; his many eccentricities fall like a pleasant sunbeam across the sombre tinted waters of life, and waken up many a smile where elsewhere gloom and sorrow might overshadow the pathway."

Anyone would be glad of such an epitaph, and although it is about one particular member of Frederick's family, these words, along with the rest of his writings about the family, give a rare insight into the lives of those who make up our family history, and is a fitting end to their story.