Hugh McNeilly was the second eldest of seven children born to Irish immigrants Anne (nee Perry) and Hugh McNeilly. His birth was registered at Goulburn in 1857. On 7 October 1884 he married Sarah Jane Cree. Sarah was the eldest of three children born to Mary J (nee Cronin) and William Cree who were also Irish immigrants. Sarah’s birth was also recorded in Goulburn.
Sarah and Hugh had the following children:
- Mary Alice b1885. She married Henry Victor Summers in Glebe in 1916. I have only found references to two children, Alice and George Francis but do not know any further details. Mary died in 1940.
- William Cree “Billy” b1887, maried Catherine Agnes Cahill in Glebe in 1912. They had four children: William John Cree b1913 d1913; Patrick Cree b1915 d1974; Kathleen Mary “Molly” b1917 d1990; and Elizabeth Josephine “Josie” b1919 d2009. Billy died from cancer in 1929
- Annie Maude b 1889. Annie married Edwin Henry Waller 10 April 1909. Annie and Edwin had at least one child, William Cree Waller. In 1920 Annie petitioned for divorce from Edwin on the grounds of desertion, citing his drinking habits. After the divorce was granted she married Alfred J Freeman in 1921. I have been unable to locate records for any other children. Annie died in 1953.
- Katherine Isabelle was born 8 April 1892. She married John Munro “Jack” Sinclair on 28 July 1920 and they had six children: Colin Hector b1921 d1991; Catherine Helen b1923 d1966; Annie Isabel b1925; Bertha b1927; William John b1931 d1931 and Phillip Baden b 1934. Katherine or Catherine died in 1961.
On 14 October 1892, just six months after the birth of their youngest daughter Katherine, Sarah died suddenly at the young age of thirty one. Mary Alice would have been seven, Billy five, Annie three and Katherine still a baby. Hugh was left to raise four young children on his own which was not destined to work out according to a news report from 1905. According to the report Sarah Jane did not have a will and thus it would be a number of years before her estate was finalised. According to this report, Sarah’s death occurred in 1901, however, I’m hoping this is a misprint as she was buried in 1892 in Stone Quarry Cemetery, Taralga. In 1905, according to the news report, the children were being cared for by their maternal uncle William James Cree who was only eighteen at the time of Sarah’s death. I can’t imagine he would have taken the children into his care immediately after Sarah’s death as he was only eighteen at that time. But, it would have been very difficult for Hugh to care for the children on his own and I imagine that Sarah’s mother may have cared for them until William’s marriage to Margaret Quinn in 1900. This household would have been very busy as William and Margaret’s children arrived regularly: Bertha M b1901 d 1927; Evelyn b1903 d1916; William S b1905; Catherine b1907 d 1907; Alice Ellen b1909; Ann J b1911; possibly others born after the search date cut off 1913.
It wasn’t until 1915 that the public trustee advertised to sell the land owned by Sarah Jane.
Hugh’s death notice indicated he had been living in Narromine and was brought to the District Hospital (presumably in Dubbo) where he died after a short illness. Hugh was buried in the Presbyterian section of the Dubbo cemetery.