December 9, 1776, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
October 1, 1862, Greenock, Scotland.
Greenock Cemetery, Greenock, Scotland.
Neil’s father, wheelwright Neill Dougall, was drafted into the army, and died in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when his son was only four years old. After his father’s death, Neil and his mother moved to Cartsdyke, Glasgow, living on a small property which had inherited. He was kept regularly at school until age 15.
Fond of boating and the sea, like many boys brought up in seaport towns, Dougall was determined to be a sailor, and in 1791 he became an apprentice on the ship Britannia. In 1795, while loading a gun to fire the second volley of a salute to commemorate Lord Howe’s victory over the French, an explosion blinded him and took his arm.
After recovering, Dougall began his musical career. In 1798, he attended a singing class under Robert Duncan, precentor of the East Parish Church in Greenock. In the fall of the next year opened his own class, which he ran until 1844. He gave annual concerts in Greenock from 1800 until 1860.