Mr Neal McNamee was born in Rooskey, Castlefinn, Co Donegal, Ireland on 29 August 1884 and his birth was registered in Strabane, Co Tyrone on 30 September that year.
Hailing from a Roman Catholic family, he was the son of William McNamee (b. 1861), a road contractor originally from Co Cavan, and Catherine Gordon (b. 1863) who had married in Crossroads, Bellina, Co Donegal on 26 November 1882.
One of seven children, Neal's siblings were: Ellen (b. 20 February 1883), Catherine (b. 29 January 1889), Mary (b. 2 June 1891), Andrew (b. 25 September 1893), Maggie (b. 27 July 1898) and Rebecca (b. 2 April 1901).
His sister Maggie lived only nine months and died from pneumonia on 20 May 1899. His sister Mary, aged 17 and unmarried, gave birth to a daughter in Strabane Workhouse on 4 December 1908 and named her Margaret; the child was raised by Neal's parents and was described as their own child on the 1911 census.
Neal appears on the 1901 census of Ireland living with his family at house 1 in Rooskey and he was described as a scholar. His parents continued to live here and appeared at that address on the 1911 census.
Neal was working for Lipton's at 41, Silver Street, Salisbury when he met Eileen O'Leary (b. 1892), a resident of that town and a cashier with the company. They were married in Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in Pokesdown, Bournemouth on 12 January 1912; at the time Neal was a resident of Portman Road in Boscombe whilst working for Lipton's at 216 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth. McNamee was offered a position at Lipton Ltd. in America and Sir Thomas Lipton himself wrote a letter of introduction to his General Manager in New York.
The newlyweds boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (ticket number 376566, which cost £16, 2s).
It is believed that Lightoller was referring to the McNamees when he recalled events of the evacuation:
... One young couple walked steadily up and down the boat deck throughout pretty well the whole of the proceedings. Once or twice the young chap asked if he could help. He was a tall, clean-bred Britisher, on his honeymoon I should say. The girl—she was little more—never made the slightest attempt to come towards the boats, much less be taken on board, although I looked towards her several times with a look of silent invitation, but no, she was not going to be parted from her man...
Neal and his wife died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
His family remained in Rooskey; his father died there on 10 January 1936 but what became of his mother is unclear.
A bench with a plaque and a tree were placed in their memory in Winston Churchill Gardens, Salisbury. The original bench is still there but missing the original plaque; the original tree was destroyed by vandals. On 28 July 1999 a new tree was planted and a new bench and plaque unveiled.
Courtesy of the McNamee family