John Carstairs McNeill

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John Carstairs McNeill
Victoria Cross Medal without Bar.png
John Carstairs McNeill
Born 28 March 1831
Colonsay, Argyllshire, Scotland
Died 25 May 1904 (aged 73)
St James Palace, London, England
Buried at Oronsay Priory
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Bengal Army
British Army
Rank Major General
Battles/wars Indian Mutiny
New Zealand Land Wars
Invasion of Waikato
Ashanti War
Mahdist War
1882 Anglo-Egyptian War
Battle of Tofrek
Awards Victoria Cross
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Other work Equerry to Queen Victoria

Major General Sir John Carstairs McNeill VC GCVO KCB KCMG (28 March 1831 – 25 May 1904) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life[edit]

He was the son of Anne Elizabeth McNeill née Carstairs, and Alexander McNeill (1791–1850) brother of Duncan McNeill, Lord Colonsay (1793–1874) and of Sir John McNeill (1795–1883).


McNeill was 33 years old, and a lieutenant colonel in the 107th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Light Infantry) - later The Royal Sussex Regiment), while serving as an Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant General Sir Duncan Alexander Cameron during the Invasion of Waikato (one of the campaigns in the New Zealand Wars), when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

For the valour and presence of mind which he displayed in New Zealand, on the 30th of March, 1864, which is thus described by Private Vesper, of the Colonial Defence Force.

Private Vosper states that he was sent on that day with Private Gibson, of the same Force, as an escort to Major (now Lieutenant- Colonel) McNeill, Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant-General Sir Duncan Cameron. Lieutenant-Colonel McNeill was proceeding to Te Awamutu on duty at the time. On returning from that place, and about a mile on this side of Ohanpu, this Officer, having seen a body of the enemy in front, sent Private Gibson back to bring up Infantry from Ohanpu, and he and Private Vosper proceeded leisurely to the top of a rise to watch the enemy. Suddenly they were attacked by about 50 natives, who were concealed in the fern close at hand. Their only chance of escape was by riding for their lives, and as they turned to gallop, Private Vesper's horse fell and threw him. The natives thereupon rushed forward to seize him, but Lieutenant-Colonel McNeill, on perceiving that Private Vosper was not following him, returned, caught his horse, and helped him to mount. The natives were firing sharply at them, and were so near that, according to Private Vesper's statement, it was only by galloping as hard as they could that they escaped. He says that he owes his life entirely to Lieutenant-Colonel McNeill's assistance, for he could not have caught his horse alone, and in a few minutes must have been killed.[1]

He later achieved the rank of major general, and in retirement became an equerry to Queen Victoria.



  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22885. p. 4027. 16 August 1864. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27285. p. 1145. 15 February 1901. Retrieved 11-10-2012.

External links[edit]

Heraldic offices
Preceded by
Sir Lynedoch Gardiner
King of Arms of the Order of the Bath
Succeeded by
Sir Spencer Ponsonby-Fane