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Neil was an illegitimate son of Roderick, the last of the Macleod chiefs of Lewis. After falling foul of the Mackenzies of Kintail (the proprietors of Lewis after Roderick) he held out on the island of Berisay for three years. He was an ally of Donald Cam.
During his time on the island he befriended Peter Love, the captain of the Priam, a pirate ship. Neil eventually betrayed the whole crew to the authorities in Edinburgh, possibly in a bid to secure his own pardon. He was finally forced to surrender when the wives and children of himself and his band were left on a nearby skerry that would be submerged at high tide. Neil was brought to trial in Edinburgh on 30th March 1613, charged with fire-raising, burning, murder, theft and piracy. He confessed to all crimes and was sentenced to be hanged and his head to be struck from his body and set upon a spike above Nether Bow Port. This was carried out in April of that year.