Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Significant Scots
Duncan McNeil

Duncan McNeil (1877-1933)
By John Henderson of Stirling, Scotland in collaboration with Mark Thompson of County Down, Ulster.

Some time after 1900, Duncan McNeil of Glasgow became the Minister of a Baptist Church in Orr Street near Bridgeton Cross, Glasgow where his singing ministry resulted in him recording a number of 78s with Beltona in the 1920s. He also composed the lyrics and music for the many hymns which eventually formed his own self-titled hymnal. He travelled across the Atlantic in 1927 and pastored in Kimball Avenue United Evangelical Church in Chicago from 1928 until 1930.

Duncan McNeil was born to Angus McNeil [Carter] and Margaret McKinnon on the 15th of February, 1877 in 218 Rutherglen Road, Glasgow.

Angus and Margaret were married on the 14th of March, 1876 in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Angus having been born on the 19th of September 1856 in Mearns, Renfrew, and Margaret in 1858 in Campbeltown, Argyll.

Angus' parents were Angus McNeil [Iron Forge Labourer] and Janet McLean, both born in 1818 in Kilninver Parish, Argyll, just South of Oban. Margaret's parents were Dugald McKinnon [Merchant Seaman]and Barbara McIlreavie who married on the 28 of August, 1849 in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland.

Duncan McNeil, by then a Shoe Finisher to trade, married Catherine McGregor according to the forms of the Wesleyan Methodists in Cathcart, Renfrew, on the 27th of December, 1898. Thereafter they had a number of children, including John in 7 Forrest Street, Camlachie, Glasgow on the 21st of November, 1901.

From public records discovered, the first indication that Duncan McNeil had assumed the name Duncan McNeill and had become a Minister, appeared when he, accompanied by his son John [Musical Director], arrived in New York, USA in early March 1927 on board the SS Leviathan from Glasgow. Thence Duncan in June, 1927 is noted as travelling from Detroit to Chicago.

During his time at Kimball Avenue United Evangelical Church, Chicago, the church's archives note, "under his leadership the church continued to emphasize evangelistic meetings. Outreach  continued with outdoor Sunday evening services at the corner of Kimball and Fullerton prior to the evening service at the church. Fellowship groups developed and thrived during this period. The Kimball Young People's Fellowship, led by church's young adults, provided Bible studies and social activities for the church's young adults. Relationships that formed in that group continued long after many of them had moved from the area. Christian Comrades, a group for women, began under the leadership of Grace Linden and others. The 'Cozy Corner' monthly newsletter continued for years and was sent around country, connecting friends to one another and Kimball Avenue. Other organizations included the Protheons, Philathea Club, Excelsiors (for men), Shipmates, Lifesavers, the Women's Missionary Socity and the Ladies Aid Society."

In 1930 in Chicago Duncan is quoted as saying, " .... during the two years I have been singing and preaching the Gospel in America, I have received thousands of requests for copies of the words and music of my song testimonies. After singing them over the radio, from different stations, I am deluged with requests thru the mail for the book from which I sing..."

It appears that Duncan travelled back to the UK in October 1930 on board the SS Leviathan.

However, he must have returned to the USA with some of his family, as they arrived back in Liverpool, England from New York and Boston aboard the SS Britannic on 23rd December, 1932.

At this point Duncan's story becomes tragic, as he dies, aged 55 years, of Pernicious Anaemia and Cardiac Aethenia, on the 28th of January, 1933, in the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow.

His widow Catherine McGregor survived him by some twenty years before she died, aged 76 years, in Gartmore, Drymen, Stirlingshire on the 22nd March, 1953.

Here are two examples of Duncan McNeill’s singing, followed by more sheet music of some of his hymns.

Dry Tears.wav

Dont Be Downhearted.wav

Return to our Significant Scots page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus