MACDONALD

This page is an attempt to outline what I know about our MacDonald ancestry in as "readable" format as possible. Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. IF you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.

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Chapter one - Earliest MacDonald Ancestry

The furthest back we can trace our Macdonald ancestry is to two families -

We know of these families through a later "genealogical sketch" by their grandson Robert MacDonald, where he also suggests that his grandparents ancestry was from two MacDonalds who had to flee, one to Sutherland and the other to Caithness, from the Western Isles at the time that MacDonald, Lord of the Isles was overpowered, &, believed, were natives of Islay. (The Lordship of the Isles collapsed at the end of the 15th century) One can imagine the young Robert sitting round the hearth with his grandfathers during the long winter's evenings being regaled with stories of his ancestors and the deeds or daring-do. Ancestry was an important part of highland clan life and tradition, kept alive through story telling etc though rarely written, and it is even possible that Alexander and Robert would have been able to recount the names through the various generations going back to that time. There is certainly documentary evidence that some MacDonalds from Islay\Jura did move from the west over to Caithness and Sutherland so this assertion may well be true.

A "Genealogical Sketch" - from a letter written by Robert to his son Roderick from Keils, By Portaskaig, Islay, May 2nd 1861

Dear Roderick, to gratify your wish to know something about your ancestors, I copy the following from my family record, viz.
"Strathgarve, Contin, Oct'r 18th. 1818
"This record is to certify to all whom it may concern that I, the writer hereof, Robert MacDonald, was born of respectable parents at the west-end of Auldinie Bridge, near Loth, in the parish of Loth, Sutherlandshire, at three o'clock in the morning of Monday, the 22nd day of June, A.D. 1795, & was baptised by the Rev. George MacCulloch, minister of Loth. That my father is John MacDonald#, farmer & cattle dealer, eldest son of Alexander MacDonald & Janet MacPherson, there; and my mother, Katherine MacDonald, eldest daughter of Robert MacDonald, weaver, & Christina Sutherland, Kintradewell, parish of Loth. (My grandfathers descended from two MacDonalds who had to flee, one to Sutherland and the other to Caithness, from the Western Isles at the time that MacDonald, Lord of the Isles was overpowered, &, believed, were natives of Islay).

My eldest brother, George, was a soldier in the 42nd Regiment, & was wounded, & died thereby, at Bayonne, shortly before the battle of Waterloo. I have living a sister named Isabella, & a brother named Alexander#, both younger than I. I had an uncle & three aunts on my father's side, namely, George#, Betty#, Isabella#, & Elizabeth#, & three uncles & one aunt on my mother's side, namely, Donald#, John#, William#, & Helen#."

Circa 1790 John, the eldest son of Alexander and Janet, married Katherine the eldest daughter of Robert and Christina. They were to have four children that we know of George born circa 1792, Robert born at the west-end of Auldinie Bridge, near Loth, 22 June 1795, Isabella born circa 1798, and Alexander born May 1801\1802 Lothbeg.(Click here for further details of the known children of John MacDonald and Katherine MacDonald.)

I suspect up until 1819 the family were living on the family lands around Loth, initially with John's father Alexander, just to the west of Loth itself. It is possible that they moved to Lothbeg circa 1800, but in 1819 they certainly moved down the coast to a croft just north of Brora at Lower Achrimsdale\Greenhil. This croft was the last "lot" as you headed out the road from Brora to Helmsdale on the ground between the main road and the sea just before the Clyne Milton Burn. We know they took up the Lower Acrimasdale croft in or about 1819 based on an 1849 record of the subsequent tenancy by the Sutherland Estates which states - "her father ............ was the first tenant in the lot and built the houses about 29 years ago"

Extract from a hand-written book from 1849 containing all the folks who lived in Clyne in November 1849 from the Factor’s Office, Sutherland Estates, in Golspie 

TOWNSHIP OF ACHRIMSDALE December 1849 

120 ISABELLA MACDONALD - succeeded her father 2 years ago - he was the first tenant in the lot and built the houses about 29 years ago - the dwelling house is built of stone and lime and byre and barn of stone and clay and all thatched with straw and at present in good condition - she does not possess all the land that her father had - she has only a small bit of it.

This land by its location was probably pretty poor, and I suspect that they were "cleared" by the Sutherland Estates from their original lands by Loth. Certainly there was a spate of clearances throughout Loth parish in 1819.

There is a record in the Clyne Militia List of 1826 of what I assume is "our" John, being exempted military service due to his age - "MacDonald, John - Drover - Acrimsdale - Past 45 Years"

Nine years later on 30 April 1835 John's wife Katharine MacDonald, died and was buried in the old parish churchyard for Clyne at Kirkton. There is a tombstone marking her grave with the inscription - "Erected by John MacDonald, Achrimsdale, in memory of his beloved spouse, Katharine MacDonald, who departed this life 30 April 1835, aged 74 years". 

Inscription on MacDonald recumbent Tombstone Kirkton Cemetry, Clyne, near Brora - TS 178.

ERECTED BY
JOHN MCDONALD
ACHRIMSDALE IN
MEMORY OF HIS BELOVED
SPOUSE KATHARINE
MCDONALD WHO
DEPARTED THIS LIFE
30 APRIL 1835
AGED 74 YEARS

The next record we have of John is the 1841 census where he was still living at Lower Achrimsdale with his daughter Isabella, and her two sons.

1841 Census (7th June)  Clyne (45)  Book 3. Page 12.

Lower Achrimsdale, Clyne

Name

Age

Occupation

Where Born

John MacDonald

75

Tenant

Yes

Isobella

40

 

Yes

Alexander Cameron

14

 

Yes

Donald Sutherland

7

 

Yes

From the previously mentioned 1849 record of the tenancy which states that Isabella "succeeded her father two years ago" and an extract from a letter on the 24 April 1847 by her brother Robert which states "I heard lately from my father and sisters they were in their usual state of health but my Father failing much in strength", we can assume John died between April and December 1847 in Lower Achrimsdale.

Chapter Two - Robert MacDonald and Margaret MacKenzie

Robert MacDonald had taken up the vocation of teaching both in English and Gaelic. His initial employer would seem to have been the Scottish Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, (SSPCK), as he he included in a book by A. S. Cowper, "SSPCK schoolmasters 1709 - 1872".  His first appointment is recorded as Strathgarve, in the parish of Contin from 1816 to 1820. He then seems to have moved south across the Black Isle to Moray where he taught at Nook of Dipple in the parish Speymouth for a year in 1821. Whilst teaching in Speymouth, Robert married  Margaret MacKenzie recorded in the Dingwall parish register, on 5th December 1821: - "Robert MacDonald, teacher of parish of Speymouth, to Margaret MacKenzie, daughter of Kenneth MacKenzie, smith, Dingwall". Margaret was the eldest daughter of Kenneth MacKenzie, a blacksmith, and Jane Cameron. There is a record on 27th January 1804 of what is almost certainly her baptism, but as only the father's name is given we cannot be 100% certain. (Click here for further details of Kenneth MacKenzie and Jane Cameron and their other known children)

The SSPCK records Robert as then taking up a position at Kinveachie in the parish of Duthil, in Inverness-shire (to the south by Boat of Garten) from 1822 to 1824. During this time Robert and Margaret had their first child, a daughter Georgina, on 29th October 1822, (baptised on 26th November 1822),  followed by a second daughter Elizabeth born on 25th July 1824,. These events are recorded along with the baptisms in the Dingwall parish register which would suggest that Margaret stayed behind possibly with her father\mother whilst Robert worked away.. 

According to the SSPCK records, on the 4 December 1823 Robert would seem to have been dismissed for "not attending the parish church and for following Stewart in his divisive courses". Peter Stewart was a "notorious" critic of the established church and this incident seems to be the one referred to in a "public" letter written to the people of Dingwall written circa 1834 in response to some sort of attack on his character by representatives of the established church around this time.

Extract from a "public" letter written to the people of Dingwall Circa 1834

3  In the several Parishes in which my lot was cast, I met with ministers from whom I could not get any good to my soul, & therefore I shunned them, & chose for myself such means of grace as I found to be more edifying to me.  In consequence of this, I & my family suffered.  On my finding that one of them, namely, the present minister of the parish of Duthil, united parties in marriage on a Sabbath day, I declared my disapprobation of his doing so, & for this cause, & also for my not attending his ministry, he wrote against me to the Secretary of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, in consequence of which, the Directors of the Society deprived me of my situation & salary; & that without stating to me the cause of which they did so, & neither did they allow me to get my case investigated, nor myself heard in my own defence.  It was afterwards found out that I was falsely accused & misrepresented to them.

The SSPCK record then states briefly "7 Oct. 1824: complained of dismissal and threatened to publish his case" followed by "1827: TAWSE reported: teacher removed. District infected with principles of Peter Stewart, and the people hostile to Mr. Grant the parish minister." I suspect this means he had his position re-instated after his complaint and his threat to publish his case BUT the establishment "got" him in the end. Peter Stewart was a Separatist, a body of individuals who were unhappy with the established church and wished to break away. This they eventually did in 1844 with the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. Naturally the SSPCK would not take kindly to an individual they supported financially siding with such an anti establishment figure. TAWSE was John Tawse a school inspector after whom I assume the infamous Tawse was named. This was a leather strap and literally the scourge of future generations of scottish school children. (Examination of actual SSPCK records if available might throw more light on this episode.)

By 1830 Robert and Margaret had a family of four with the births of John born on 29th March 1826, (baptised on 26th April 1826), and Margaret, born on 6th January 1829. Again all these events were recorded in the Dingwall parish register.

Their next child, Robert, was born on 16th August 1831, in Arnisdale, Glenelg.  The family had moved to Arnisdale when Robert had taken a position there sponsored by the "Glasgow Auxiliary Gaelic School Society" teaching Gaelic.  Once again whilst there Robert fell foul of the Established Church Minister.  This is also described in the previously mentioned "public" letter written to the people of Dingwall -

Extract from a "public" letter written to the people of Dingwall Circa 1834

About four years ago I was sent by the Glasgow Auxiliary Gaelic School Society to Arnisdale of Glenelg to teach.  The Schoolhouse that I got there being in a ruinous state, I had to remove my school out into another, until the former should be properly repaired, or the required accommodations should be
provided.  About that time the missionary of Knoidart came to reside in the place, & stirred up some of the people to make some repairs on it for a preaching house for himself.  This took place in winter.  When he got this done he & the minister of Glenelg required me to return to it with my school.  This I refused to do until the house should be made wind & water tight as the Society required, & also for other equally reasonable causes.  They then took hold of this as a sufficient cause to get me removed out of the place, for to make room for a favourite of their own, & in a clandestine manner they wrote to the Society that I changed one Station for another, with other false accusations, & the result was that I was immediately deprived of my situation & salary, & their own favourite appointed to succeed me, & that also without allowing my case to be investigated, nor myself heard in my own defence.  The inhabitants of the place on seeing how unfairly & oppressively I was treated, kept me another year teaching their children.  The clergy being enraged by this, threateningly caused the factor of the place to put a stop to my teaching in the day-time, for some time, expecting by that to compel the people to send their children to the other teacher.  This the people would not do, except a few who, under slavish fear, sent theirs.  About a month afterwards I resumed.  This is only a part of the ill-treatment that I met with from those unjust cruel-hearted, & tyrannical Clergy & their unrighteous partisans.

By the birth of their next child, Kenneth, on 1st February 1834, the family had returned to Dingwall, as it is in the Dingwall parish records that this birth, (and subsequent baptism on 18th February 1834), is recorded.  Sadly, still in Dingwall,  just over a year later on 31st May 1835 the baby Kenneth died of smallpox

It seems to be at this point in time that Robert penned his "letter to the inhabitants of Dingwall". What had prompted this letter is unknown as is how it would have been broadcast, but its content, the descriptions of the clashes with initially the SSPCK and latterly Glasgow Auxiliary Gaelic School Society show Robert to have been a deeply religious man, with strong views as to the way the Church of Scotland was set up\administered etc. This is reflected throughout the later personal letters which we have along with a wealth of other information about his life and times. (Click here for a transcript of the letters of Robert MacDonald to his brother Alexander, his son Roderick and daughters Georgina and Elizabeth and the "public letter to the inhabitants of Dingwall. and Click here for a transcript of the letters of Margaret MacKenzie to her son Roderick  1875-1879 and her other"jottings")

It is interesting that he states in the 1834 letter - ”During the first 15 years of my life, I followed the religion of my neighbours, without examining whether it was right or wrong………but since then I was convinced of my mistake, & directed & inclined to take the bible as my only Rule of Faith & Practice”. It may be coincidence but this would make his change in attitude date to around 1810 at which time the clearances would have been starting in earnest all around him. I suspect this may have helped mould his somewhat anti-establishment views. Considering the power of the establishment both secular and religious at this time to have aired his views publicly and in such an outspoken manner as he seems to have done in the 1834 letter eg. “ That the Christian Church in this land is in much need of being reformed both in Doctrine, Worship, Government, & Discipline, cannot be denied…………Away then with all antichristian & corrupt practices, together with all the wolves, foxes, greedy dogs, thieves & robbers, hirelings & blind guides out of the Christian Church” - showed the strength of his convictions and was the act of a brave man. I guess it must have restricted the career opportunities open to him considerably and not made for an easy life. However was not alone in his concerns. There were a number of ministers and lay people who shared his views and this came to a head in 1843 with the disruption when a group broke away and established the free Church of Scotland.

Robert and Margaret had a further baby in 1837. The infant was born in Inverness and was sadly stillborn. It is possible the move to Inverness was as a result of Robert MacDonald's position in Dingwall having being rendered untenable by the "attack on his character" etc. The births of their next two children were also recorded in Inverness - Alexander, born on 20th April 1839, and Roderick, on 12th April 1841, and it is in Inverness, at Wells Street, (just before it's junction with Telford Street), that we find the family living for the census of 7th June 1841.  Georgina their eldest daughter is not recorded in this census, and was living at Viewhill Castle, Inverness, with her husband-to-be, working as a female servant. 

1841 Census (7th June)  Inverness (98)  Book 11. Page 30.

Wells Street, Inverness. (Three doors before Telford Street.)

Name

Age

Occupation

Where Born

Robert MacDonald

40

Teacher

Yes

Margaret

35

 

Yes

Elizabeth

15

 

No

John

15

 

No

Margaret

12

 

No

Robert

10

 

Yes

Alexander

2

 

Yes

Roderick

1 month

 

Yes

Robert MacDonald and Margaret MacKenzie had a further two children after 1841. Katherine, born 18th September 1843, in Inverness, and Henry Ebenezer, born on 23rd April 1846, in Muirtown, Inverness. (Click here for further details of the Robert MacDonald and Margaret MacKenzie's children)

Sadly, on 4th April 1847, aged only 3 years 6 months and 17 days, Katherine died of measles.  A letter written by Robert to his brother Alexander in Canada details the particulars of this sad event.  There seems to have been an epidemic of measles in Inverness in the late winter\early spring of 1843 with a horrendous death toll.  Robert states in his letter "Nearly 600 died here since 3 months. The year 47 will be long remembered by many and cannot be forgotten by us". It reminds us what a deadly disease measles could be 150 years ago.  What we now consider to be a unpleasant childhood disease was in those days a killer of major proportions.  One can also see from the tone of this letter how hard to bear this particular loss was for Robert.  

Extract from a letter from Robert MacDonald in Inverness informing his brother Alexander MacDonald in Nova Scotia Canada, of the death of Robert's youngest daughter Katherine 

Inverness 24th April,1847.

My dear Brother,

I am sure you will be startled at this note, and sympathise with us on reading it. Early in March last my scholars all except 5 were in one week swept away from school by the measles, & my youngest four, Alexander, Roderick, Catherine & Henry -Ebenizer, caught the same trouble almost at once, but they got favourably recovered, and then we thought that all consequent dangers were over: But! O but! On the 31st ulto. my dear Catherine was discovered attacked by the croup, and continued suffering severely there, in spite of all medical means used until half past 6 o'clock on the Sabbath  morning ,the 4th day of this month when she expired, and death put an end to her  terrible suffering!!!

On Tuesday after her remains were buried  in the churchyard burying ground here, at 2 o'clock P.M. and that very respectably. The Rev. Mr Clark here and the Rev Mr Campbell late of Kildonan followed, one on each side of me, after the coffin, & my son-in-law and Johnny and Robert before it. Her coffin respectfully mounted and covered with cloth, with her name and age 3 ½  years on it.  The coffin was 44 inches long, and yet just what she required and her burial was respectably and numerously attended. Her stoutness of body, neatness of form, beauty of person, whitness of skin and wisdom     of intellect, were admired by all who knew her. She learned many good things and harmless songs, and composed several verses herself making up the blanks as she went along. Alltho she was social, yet would she be cheering herself alone. In short, she was the darling of  my family, and I am afraid the idol of it too. We had only the loan of her, and her almighty  owner had the right to take her back from us when he saw proper, but long will the breach be remembered by such of us as may live long.  May this sad visitation be sanctified to us all. O! For the grace to make the proper use of it.........................

....................I took a burying place where Catharine's body lies. Seven feet broad and 6 feet long for three graves. I got it free and I placed two stones one at each corner of the head of the spot ,with R McD 1847 on each stone.  Nearly 600 died here since 3 months. The year 47 will be long remembered by many and cannot be forgotten by us. 

Further on in this letter are some remarks about his three boys, Henry Ebenezer, Roderick, and Alexander.

Extract from a letter from Robert MacDonald in Inverness  - 24th April 1847

Henry E. is a pretty stout, cheerful and kind child and now has got 4 teeth and speaks some words, and never troublesome, but very good natured and extraordinary wise for his age. Roderick is like to be an extraordinary scholar if spared. In September last , he had not the alphabet, all being neglected herding on the farm, but now he is reading the New Testament, and any English book he can get and has my questions of the Shorter Catechism  by heart and rises early  and sits in bed reading away. Alexn. Is reading the Bible, but not so willingly. .

The reference to Roderick's schooling being neglected through "herding on the farm" is interesting.  Whose farm this refers to I do not currently know but I would guess his grandfather John MacDonald's, up at Lower Achrimsdale by Brora in Sutherland.

Three and a half years after this sad time, on 4th December 1850 there was a more cheerful event for Robert to record. His second eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Findlay from Clachnaharry.(SEE ONLINE FINDLAY FAMILY HISTORY).

For the census of 31st March 1851 Margaret and the children were still in Inverness, but now living at 5 Upper Kessock St. Robert was absent being in Islay living at Loigin Farm, working as the schoolmaster at the day school.

1851 Census (31st March)  Inverness (98)  Book 16. Page 11.

5 Upper Kessock Street, Inverness.

Name

Relationship

Age

Occupation

Where Born

Margaret MacDonald

Female Head

47

Schoolmaster's Wife

Contin, Ross-shire

John

Son

24

Apprentice ships carpenter

Dingwall, Ross-shire

Robert

Son

19

Apprentice writers clerk

Glenelg, Inverness-shire

Alexander

Son

11

Scholar at time

Inverness, Inverness-shire

Roderick

Son

9

Scholar at time

Inverness, Inverness-shire

Henry E.

Son

4

Scholar at time

Inverness, Inverness-shire

 

1851 Census (31st March)  Kilmeny, Islay (543)  Book 2. Page 8.

Loagin farm, Kilmeny, Islay

Name

Relationship

Age

Occupation

Where Born

Robert MacDonald

Head

55

Schoolmaster of Day School

Parish of Loth, Sutherlandshire

Later on in this year (1851) Margaret MacDonald and the children moved over to Islay to join Robert, and ten years later, for the census of 1861 Robert and Margaret, and their youngest son, Henry, were still on Islay, at Keils, near Port Askaig. Later comments by both the children and Robert in their correspondence give an impression that the time in Islay as being happier than some of the other periods in their lives.

1861 Census (8th April)  Islay (543)  Book 4. Page 2.

Keils, Islay.

Name

Relationship

Age

Occupation

Where Born

Robert MacDonald

Head

65

Schoolmaster

Loth, Sutherland

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

56

Schoolmaster's Wife

Contin, Ross-shire

Henry E.

Son

14

Scholar

Inverness, Inverness-shire

Drawing of the house in Keils, signed R. McD

This census is doubly interesting as from a letter written shortly after this census, on the 2nd May 1861, to his son Roderick, Robert MacDonald informs us that he was involved in the taking of the census for the district next to this, and had not been paid for it yet, expecting around 25/-, which he felt was "Too little for the trouble". Also mentioned in the letter, but not included in the census is the family parroquette, Rosella -  a touch of the exotic on the Islay of the mid 19th century. He also is not too happy to still be keeping his youngest son Henry, now aged nearly fifteen, stating "we would be glad to be quit of him", and offering to "make a present of him" to his older sons Robert and John!!  A sentiment that I can understand.  It is however a bit of a turn round from his remarks about Henry as a baby ie. "Henry E. is a pretty stout, cheerful and kind child and now has got 4 teeth and speaks some words, and never troublesome, but very good natured and extraordinary wise for his age".  We also have an actual drawing of the house in Keils, signed R. McD.. This could be Robert himself, or possibly Robert or Roderick his sons. The names of his neighbours above the other door, Peter Cambell - P.O. & R.(oderick) McEachen - Tailor, match with the detail of the 1861 census for Keils.

By March 1866 Robert and Margaret had returned to Inverness, this time living at 13 Telford Street, as it is from this address that Robert sent a letter to his son Roderick, to inform him of the death of his sister, Elizabeth, in childbirth, on 8th March 1866.

By August 1868, Robert and Margaret had moved again, this time to 1 School Lane, Church Street, Inverness, and it was there, on the 11th April 1869, Robert MacDonald, now aged 73, suffered a stroke, leaving this right side weakened, especially his hand and foot.

By June 1869, Robert and Margaret had moved again, this time to 13 Lower Kessock Street, Inverness, on account of the house at School Lane being damp and cold, and having a detrimental effect on the health of their son, Alexander, who had just returned from a voyage to Jamaicas, where he had been afflicted with "Yellow Fever". (He was lucky to have survived, as three of the crew had died). 

For the census of 3rd April 1871 Robert and Margaret were still living at 16 Lower  Kessock Street.

1871 Census (3rd April)  Inverness (98)  Book 18. Page 43.

13 Lower Kessock Street, Inverness.

Name

Relationship

Age

Occupation

Where Born

Robert MacDonald

Head

75

Late Schoolmaster

Loth, Sutherland

Margaret MacDonald

Wife

65

Late Schoolmaster's Wife

Fodderty, Ross-shire

Shortly after this census Robert and Margaret moved to 48 Telford Street, Inverness, although in the July, Robert enjoyed a short sojourn, at the Moy Inn in Moy village, whilst teaching Gaelic to MacIntosh of MacIntosh of Moy Hall. From here, on 17th July 1871, he wrote to his daughter Georgina, who seems to have been looking after his wife, Margaret. He also included an account of his time at Moy in his letters of 6th July and 31st August 1871, to his son, Roderick, in Melbourne, Australia.

Robert MacDonald and Margaret McKenzie in their later years

Throughout the latter years of Robert and Margaret MacDonald's life money, or lack of it, was obviously a constant problem, and this is reflected within his letters. Roderick in Australia seems to have sent them money on a regular basis, £3 here and £5 there, and their other children and various friends gave "presents" of 5/- etc., now and then. Robert does seem to have been in receipt of a pension of £10, possibly from either the Glasgow Auxiliary Gaelic School Society, or the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, both of whose employ he had been in.

By 1872 Robert MacDonald was a member of the newly formed "Gaelic Society of Inverness" his name being amongst the list of members in the second "Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness ".Robert MacDonald would seem to have been somewhat of a literary figure writing both English and Gaelic poetry, and publishing at least one small volume of Gaelic poetry. This resulted in his inclusion in the Rev. MacDonald's book "The MacDonald Bards" which not only makes reference to his literary talents, but also includes a family history, compiled by Robert MacDonald himself, giving an additional source of information alongside the normal records. (Click here for a transcript of account of Robert MacDonald from "The MacDonald Bards") 

Over the last few years of his life old age and the effects of his earlier stroke started to catch up on Robert, as evinced by the deterioration of his hand writing in his letters to his son Roderick in Australia, and finally, on 11th May 1876, at the age of 81, Robert MacDonald, passed on. At the time of his death he was living in Inverness, at 50 Wells Street. Robert MacDonald Jnr., seems to have come up from London to carry out his duties as eldest son, as it is his name that appears on the death certificate, his address being given as 5 Camden Ter,, Albert Grove, Peckham Rye, London. Robert was laid to rest alongside his daughter Elizabeth in a lair belonging to him in Inverness Old High Church graveyard. At the time there were insufficient funds to raise any sort of permanent marker and a fact which upset Alexander, his son. This fact was voiced some years later in a letter written by Alexander from 4 Millar St, Partick, Glasgow on 20 August 1899 to his brother Roderick Macdonald in Australia, after the death of his sister Margaret 4 years previously. In it he also bemoaned the fact that he had had handed over the title deeds to the lair to the Findlays so that Thomas Roibert's son- in law may be buried there alongside his wife Elizabeth MacDonald. It would seem that this was on the understanding that the Findlays would at least "put a railing around the graves", but they had not kept their promise, despite being considerably better off than himself.

Extract from a letter from Alexander MacDonald from 4 Millar St, Partick, Glasgow on 20 August 1899

Tom Findlay and his wife was here last Sunday and they are all well, and as for John and Maggie Findlay they never come to see me or never acknowledge my sister Maggie’s death, never came to see her even when she was lying ill, what I am referring to here is when their father died Tom wrote for his sister Maggie Findlay asking me to bury his father in one of the Lairs, which I gave the title deeds of my father’s lair in the High Church yard Inverness, which I give her leave. She offered herself to put a railing around the graves. I know she is able enough to do it because her father left her 100 pounds and household effects and she will not do anything to it expecting her other brothers and sisters to contribute to it. I think her brother in Montreal could do a little to help and as for John Findlay and herself they are never done galanting and spending money all over the country about this season of the year. It annoyed me very much to see my father’s burial place forgotten.

I was not in a position to put a proper headstone on my father’s grave, but if I am spared to next year, I will not let my father’s name be forgotten.

In 1999 exactly 100 years after the penning of this letter this situation was remedied by Robert's Great-grandson Roderick MacDonald, a noted Architect, of Melbourne Australia by the erection of the MacDonald headstone alongside the original Findlay headstone marking the site of the burial of Robert MacDonald and in memory of his achievements and family..

Inscription on MacDonald (lefthand) headstone in Inverness Old High Churchgraveyard

ROBERT

MACDONALD

 

BARD AND TEACHER

BORN LOTH 22.6.1795

DIED INVERNESS 11.5.1876

HUSBAND OF MARGARET

FATHER OF GEORGINA

ELIZABETH, JOHN

MARGARET, ROBERT

KENNETH, ALEXANDER

RODERICK, KATHERINE

AND HENRY

 

NOTE - The headstone to the right of the MacDonald one is in memory of Thomas Findlay (died 8th November 1893), and his family. The Elizabeth MacDonald, commerated on the Findlay stone, wife of Thomas Findlay was the daughter of Robert MacDonald.

After the death of her husband Margaret MacKenzie, moved to Glasgow,  to stay  with her children, (John, Alexander, and Margaret).  Initially they sayed at 11 Clyde St., Partick, moving to 15 Clyde St., Partick, in the summer of 1877 due to the damp at number 11. On 5th September 1879, aged 75, (72 according to her death certificate), she too passed on, and was buried on 8 September in Craigton Cemetery in a plot, (X2982), owned by her son Alexander. Her address was given as 4 West Hozier St., Partick, Glasgow.