Hector Macneill


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Born 1746, at Rosebank, near Roslin, Macneill was descended from an old Highland family and raised on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. A wealthy relative from Bristol, England, who traded with the West Indies, induced his father to let him leave home, planning to apprentice him as a seaman aboard a slaver bound for the Guinea coast, but through friends opposition he was set to work on a regular trader bound for St. Christopher. After a year he became clerk to a merchant in Guadeloupe where he remained for three years before being sacked and reduced to unsalaried overseer for his slave driving patron in Antigua. Later he become assistant to the Provost Marshal of Grenada.

He returned to Scotland and received a small inheritance on his fathers death, but lost this through an agents bankruptcy. He then became assistant secretary on two royal ships, seeing active service out in India. Retiring to Stirling he attempted to become a 'man of letters', but restless, went again to Jamaica in 1784, and after some more ups and downs a small Government allowance tempted him back to Scotland, and he resumed the role of literary man. One of his publications (which he afterwards attempted to suppress) was a pamphlet vindicating slavery, published in 1788. Shortly afterwards he wrote several songs including the bawdy 'Come Under My Plaidie', and, in 1795, made a hit with 14 editions in 12 months of "Scotland's Skaith; or, The History of Will and Jean," followed up with the equally successful "The Waes o' War".

For health reasons he returned to Jamaica where a few legacies found their way to him and with financial and personal health recovered he returned to Edinburgh. His adventures formed the basis of a novel entitled "The Memoirs of Charles Macpherson, Esq.," which he wrote in 1800. Another of his works was "The Pastoral or Lyric Muse of Scotland." During his latter years he was extensively lionised in Edinburgh, where he died on the 15th May, 1818, aged 72."
(Edited extract from Greig's Scots Minstrelsie" published 1892)