Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Neill, William Chichester

O'NEILL, WILLIAM CHICHESTER, Lord O'Neill (1813–1883), musical composer, born on 3 March 1813, at the residence of his father, the Rev. Edward Chichester (d. 1840), rector of Kilmore, Armagh, was educated at Foyle College, Londonderry, and at the High School, Shrewsbury, under Dr. Butler. He graduated at Trinity College, Dublin; was ordained in 1837, and was appointed to a prebendal stall in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in 1848. By the death of John Bruce O'Neill, third viscount O'Neill, younger son of John O'Neill, first viscount [q. v.], in 1835, he came into possession of the great estates of the O'Neill family, to whom he was related by the marriage of his great-grandfather, the Rev. Arthur Chichester, with Mary, daughter of Henry O'Neill of Shane's Castle, co. Antrim, the first cousin of the first Viscount O'Neill. In 1868 the peerage, originally conferred in 1793, and extinct on the death of the third Viscount O'Neill, was restored to Chichester under the title of ‘Baron O'Neill of Shane's Castle.’ O'Neill exhibited remarkable talent and ability as a performer on the violin and organ, especially the latter instrument; he was also a skilled singer and composer. On the occasion of the visit of Prince Arthur (Duke of Connaught) to Shane's Castle in 1869, Lord O'Neill composed the poetry and music of an ode which he accompanied on the organ at the performance. He frequently officiated as organist in the Dublin cathedrals, and composed church music, glees and songs, all remarkable for purity of style and grammatical accuracy. Some of these pieces have been published. He died on 17 April 1883, at Shane's Castle. He was twice married: first, in 1839, to Henrietta (d. 1857), eldest daughter of Robert Torrens, judge of the common pleas in Ireland, by whom he had three sons and a daughter; secondly, in 1858, to Elizabeth Grace, daughter of John Torrens, D.D., archdeacon of Dublin.

[Memoir by Archdeacon Hamilton,; private information.]

W. H. C.