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Percy Neill was born in Belfast in 1842. He trained in banking and business before emigrating to Melbourne in 1859 where he joined a firm of merchants called McCallum, Neill & Co. He was sent to Dunedin in 1863 as the firm's resident partner.

A few years later he joined a rival company and developed its Dunedin business so successfully that he bought them out and established Neill & Co. The company grew fast off the back of a newly wealthy population from the gold rush. The company's huge bonded store which was bought in 1867 was one of the city's first substantial buildings. It covered a whole block and gave its name to "Bond" street, then the chief mercantile street of Dunedin.

Neill & Co had a very keen business rival, Wilson & Co. The two firms ultimately merged into Wilson Neills in 1963, recognising their mutual interests in the grocery and liquor trade.

A well known building in Chingford park, Chingford Park Stables was his pride.

He held the office of French Consul from 1873 but was somewhat diffident and retiring in personality. He didn't take a prominent part in municipal or political affairs but did give advice and money for the city's progress and was involved in many companies.

After marrying in 1866 to a daughter of Captain Foster Fyans from Geelong in Australia he had four sons and four daughters. His great grandson is the well known actor, Sam Neill (Nigel John Dermot Neill). Although born in Northern Ireland Sam Neill spent most of his childhood in MacAndrew Bay, Dunedin.

Contributed by C Begg

Percival Neill

Wilsons Bond

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