Further details of known children of John MacDonald and Katherine MacDonald with some information on their descendants.

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Further details of known children of John MacDonald and Katherine MacDonald and their descendants.

John MacDonald and Catherine MacDonald had the following known children:

George McDonald

Identified in a letter of 2nd May 1861from Robert MacDonald from Keils, by Port Askaig, Islay to his son Roderick.  : - "Dear Roderick, to gratify your wish to know something about your ancestors, I copy the following from my family record, viz...............My eldest brother, George, was a soldier in the 42nd Regiment, & was wounded, & died thereby, at Bayonne, shortly before the battle of Waterloo".

As Robert's eldest brother it would seem likely that he was born circa 1792.  This would mean a likely enlistment date of circa 1810.

It would seem likely that George received his fatal wounds at the Battle of Nive on 9th - 13th Dec 1813. The Nive was a river with 35,000 French defending it. Wellington had 14,000 British and Portuguese to attack their fortifications. The river had been crossed on the 9th and took up a strong position on the heights near St Pierre. The 1st battalion 42nd Black Watch were at Bayonne and were attacked on the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, in what was some of the most severe fighting of the war, but every attack was repulsed, the 2nd Div on the 13th were given the order "Dead or alive, my lads, we must hold our ground". The roads were said to have be literary running with blood. Over the five days the 2nd battalion 42nd Black Watch suffered only 28 casualties. With all the French attacked repulsed, the Allies advanced to occupy the position near Adour. The French lost about 10,000 men and the British casualties were 5,019 men, a sign of the fighting power of the soldiers when faced with over 2 to 1. The 1st battalion 42nd Black Watch received the Battle Honour and clasp "Nive" for their part in this battle.

However on the 14th April 1814, after Napoleon's abdication there was a break out sortie by the French garrison at Bayonne which cost a number of British casualties. Which Regiment suffered the casualties I do not know?

Investigation of the Black Watch Muster Rolls (initially for 1813) might provide more info on George.


George's life must have been similar to that of  John Harper was recruited at Thurso by Lt Gunn of the 2nd 42nd Highlanders on the 11th June 1807.  His time with the 42nd is chronicled in "A Caithness Soldier who went to ar in Spain" and it is from thence that much of the previous detail is taken. - See online at http://www.iprom.co.uk/archives/caithness/ptejohndetail.htm

Robert McDonald

Born on 22 Jun 1795. Died on 11 May 1876. Next Generation of the MacDonald family history

Isabella McDonald

Born circa 1797.   Isabella is mentioned in passing throughout Robert's letters but the first actual record I have of Isabella is in the 1841 census for Lower Achrimsdale, Clyne, (just down the coast from Loth).

Isabella MacDonald had at least two sons. (For further details of these sons and their descendents - Click here)

It would seem that not only Alexander but also Donald were "natural" sons as there is no record of Isabella ever marrying, no record of any husband or husbands, her later death certificate records her as "single" and her surname is consistently given as Macdonald . On wonders what brother Robert with his strict "Free Church" views made of this!!

For the census of 1841 Isabella was living with her father John MacDonald in the family croft in Lower Achrimsdale (latterly known as Greenhill). Included in the household are her two sons Alexander Cameron and Donald Sutherland.

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

Lower Achrimsdale, Clyne

Name Age Occupation Where Born
John MacDonald 75 Tenant Yes
Isobella MacDonald 40   Yes
Alexander Cameron 14   Yes
Donald Sutherland 7   Yes

The croft, latterly known as Greenhill, was the last croft to the south of the road north out of Brora just before it crossed the Clyne Milton Burn.  The croft consisting of a dwelling house built of stone and lime and a byre and barn of stone and clay, all thatched with straw built around 1820 built when John MacDonald first took over the "lot". I would suspect he had been moved from better inland grounds as part of the Sutherland estates improvements. There recently were some major clearances around the 1820's  In 1849 eight years after this census an estate "audit" stated that the buildings were - "at present in good condition" but that Isabella now the tenant "does not possess all the land that her father had - she has only a small bit of it". When, where and how much land had been lost and where and how much was left is unknown but the two arable strips on the other side of the Helsdale road from the croft which was numbered 120 which one might espect to be tenanted by that croft would appear to be tenented by the crofts 109 and 119. It would seem not unreasonable to believe that although initially these strips had been tenanted by the croft numbered 120, they had possibly been given up and split between crofts 109 and 119 at some stage in the past.

Modern day aerial photo of Greenhill in comparison with an extract of Lower Achrimasdale from - Plan of the Allotments in the Townships of Brora East Muir and Dalchallam, Achrimsdale, Dromie and Clyne-Kirkton. In the parish of Clyne and County of Sutherland - from a survey in Dec'r 1849
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

For the census of 1851 Isabella and family were still living at Lower Achrimsdale, though now this collection of crofts was named as Greenhill. Isabella is now recorded as a "lotter" - the person who rents a portion or lot of land. Her youngest son is still listed as a scholar and her elder son Alexander at least seems to have been give a trade by his father - "saddler".

1851 Census (31st March)  Clyne (45)  Book 2. Page 16.

Greenhill, Clyne.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Isabella MacDonald Head 53 Lotter Loth, Sutherland
Alexander Cameron Son 25 Saddle/harness maker Golspie, Sutherland
Donald Sutherland Son 16 Scholar Clyne, Sutherland

Isabella and family were still at Greenhill for the census of 1861.  Isabella's age has been wrongly recorded as 72 - it should be 62.  Younger son Donald seems to have followed in big half-brother's footsteps and also become a "saddler".  It is also noticeable that Alexander is following in the family tradition of the "one parent family" - unmarried but living with his son George Alexander Cameron, his son by a Jessie MacDonald, born on 5th October 1856.

1861 Census (8th April)  Clyne (45)  Book 2. Page 10.

Greenhill, Clyne.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Isabella MacDonald Head 72 Lotter Loth, Sutherland
Alexander Cameron Son 32 Saddler Golspie, Sutherland
Donald Sutherland Son 26 Scholar Clyne, Sutherland
Geo. A. M. Cameron Grandson 4   Clyne, Sutherland

In May of 1869 Isabella had a visit from her brother, Robert, and her grand nephew, Alexander McLennan, as in a letter from from Robert to his son Roderick dated 31 August 1869 he wrote - "A. McLennan was here lately seeing us about the time that we received your letter of the 2nd of June & I gave him the reading of it. He & I went over to Sutherland for 3 days to see our friends there, & we enjoyed it well. We went by train to Golspie, & back again by the same." This self same railway was literally cutting through Isabella's back yard, trapping them between road and railway and cutting of the view to the sea.

The following year her nephew Alexander was staying with her whilst recuperating from what sounds like malaria?. Ahain this is mentioned in a letter from from Robert to his son Roderick dated  9 June 1870 where he wrote - "Alex'r is over in Sutherland with my sister & hers. After coming home from Jamaica he was frequently attacked with the Ague, & went to Sutherland in hopes of getting better, & they kept him for a while, & he built a boat for them, & is a little better, & the fits are less frequent, nor continuing so long as formerly."

 For the 1871 census we find Isabella and her son, Alex Cameron still at Greenhill. Although Isabella is the "tenant" of the croft, Alexander is the HEAD.

1871 Census (3rd April)  Clyne (45)  Book 2. Page 12.

Greenhill, Clyne.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Cameron Head (Unmarried) 43 Saddler Golspie, Sutherland
Geo. Cameron Son 14 Scholar Clyne, Sutherland
Isabella MacDonald Mother 73 Tenant Loth, Sutherland

Her younger son Donald Sutherland is no longer at the family home having married Margaret McKay on 13th March 1863.  Margaret was the daughter of Donald MacKay and Anne Gunn who were married on 18 November 1831 in Clyne. There are two children recorded to Donald and Anne in the IGI - George born 1 April 1834 in Clyne and "our" Margaret born on 3 February 1837 also in Clyne.

A few months after this sad time Isabella MacDonald died on 28th July 1874, aged 77, at Greenhill, the parish of Clyne, Sutherland.  Just to confirm that this Isabella MacDonald is one and the same as our Isabella, Robert MacDonald states in a letter of 20th October 1874 to his son Roderick - "my sister died on 28th July last" i.e. 28th July 1874, and the death certificate of the aforementioned Isabella MacDonald records her parents as John MacDonald - Loth, and Katherine MacDonald, ms. MacDonald, both deceased, with the informant "Alex Cameron - son"!

Alexander McDonald

According to his family bible Alexander was born "May 1801 or 1802" the "the son of John and Katharine MacDonald was born in Lothbeg, Parish of Loth, County of Sutherland."

There is a record of a "Mr Alexr Macdonald, Merchant, Golspie, Unmarried" in an 1826 Golspie Militia list which I would assume is "our" Alexander.

Four years later the marriage of Alexander to Christian MacIntosh on 20th November 1830 was recorded in the parish register of Golspie, Sutherland. Christian MacIntosh was the daughter of Gilbert MacIntosh and Marion MacLeod, whose birth in Achlean was recorded in the parish register Dornoch, on 3 January 1803. Christian had four brothers, William, born 4th February 1794, George born 18th May 1798, William born 7th April 1805, Hector born 17th August 1813 and three sisters Catherine born 10th April 1796, Margaret born 26th September 1800, Anne born 18th February 1810, with all the births recorded in the parish register Dornoch

It would seem likely that Alexander MacDonald and Christian MacIntosh emigrated to North America sometime in 1831 as we know they were in Golspie, Scotland for their marriage on 20th November 1830, but by the birth of their first daughter Georgina on 19th June 1832, they were in Roger Hills, Pictou, Nova Scotia.  In a letter of Robert MacDonald's to his son Roderick he states that Alexander "was first a merchant, & after losing all his effects by fire in America, became a schoolmaster in Nova Scotia.

There were at least twelve ships from the U.K. bringing settlers to Pictou in 1831/32.  The most likely to have brought Alexander and his wife, (assuming they came direct to Pictou) were the ones from Cromarty or Inverness : -

However Alexander MacDonald and Christian MacIntosh arrived in Canada, as previously stated they were in Roger Hills, Pictou, Nova Scotia at approximately 10 o'clock p.m. on the 19th June 1832 for the birth of their first daughter Georgina. Georgina was baptised by the Rev. Kenneth MacKenzie of Pictou on 18th July 1832.

For the Nova Scotia census of 1838 there is a record of what is almost certainly Alexander and his family resident in New Glasgow, Pictou. Unfortunayely this census only recorded heads of household and number of individuals broken down by age within the household. In this case Alexander was identified as a Teacher, with 3 females under 10, and 2 females above 14, with the total hosehold numbering 6. This would fit with Alexander's profession and his children, Geogina Catherine Jane and Marion aged about 6, 4 and 1 respectively. I assume 1 of the 2 females over 14 would be Christian, his wife, but the other is unknown, although a female servant would seem likely. Interestingly the next door head of the household is Gilbert McIntosh, a merchant.

Alexander MacDonald and Christian MacIntosh had seven children in all, and their births, (along with his and his wife's) were recorded on the fly leaf of Alexander's New Testament Bible sent over from the homeland by the Duke and Earl of Sutherland, George Granville Sutherland Leveson Gower to "His Clansmen in America".

Inscription on fly leaf and subsequent page of Alexander MacDonald's New Testament Bible

Alex. MacDonald son of John and Katharine MacDonald was born in Lothbeg, Parish of Loth, County of Sutherland, May 1801 or 1802.
Christian Mackintosh Daughter of Gilbert & Marion Mackintosh (MacLeod) was born in Achlean, Parish of Dornoch, Sutherlandshire on the 5th or 6th of January 1805, and were married at Golspie on 20th Nov 1830 by the Rev. Alex. McPherson, Golspie
1st Georgina their Daughter born at Roger Hill, Pictou, about 10 o'clock p.m. Tuesday 19th June & baptized 18th July 1832 by Rev. Kenneth McKenzie, Pictou, N.S.
against this is a note 1yr 11m 3d = gap to Catherine Jane
2 Catherine Jane born about 2 o'clock p.m. Thursday 22nd May and baptized 28th August 1834 by Ditto
against this is a note 1yr 11m 3d = gap to William
3 William born about 6 o'clock p.m. Friday 11th March and baptized 14th April 1836 by Rev. Don A. Fraser and died Sabbath day 24th Sept. 1837 & interred in the burial ground near John McKay's place ?Quarry Point? near New Glasgow.
against this is a note age 1yr 6m 12d 13 hs = age at death (means William died about 7 o'clock a.m.   on 24th Sept. 1837) and ?1yr 9m 12d? = gap to Marion.
4 Marion born about 8 o'clock a.m. Saturday 23rd & baptized 24th Dec 1837 by Rev. ?Jno McRae? .
against this is a note 1yr 9m= gap to John Robert
5 John Robert born about 5 o'clock a.m. Sabbath day 22nd Sept. & baptized 21st Oct 1839 at Roger Hill by Rev. Don. McConnochie.
against this is a note 2yr 2m 2wks = gap to Gilbert
6 Gilbert born about 5 o'clock a.m. Monday 6th December 1841 baptized Monday 31st Jan 1842 at Roger Hill by Ditto

On Fly Leaf

Christy Ann born at Cariboo Wednesday 30th April 1845 & baptized in Pictou on Sabbath 10th August 1845 by the Rev. ? McLeod of the Free Church

As per the family bible Alexander and Christian had the following children - (For further details of the children, where known, and their descendents - Click here.)

The notes of gaps between children show Alexander to have been an educated man, and possibly a bit of a perfectionist - William's age at death down to hours!!  However the detail for his wife, Christian's birth is not quite accurate being out by two years, and some doubt over his own birth i.e. 1801 or 1802!

I believe Alexander McDonald died on 26 October 1854 at River John, Pictou, Nova Scotia. It is currently unknown when Christian McDonald, nee MacIntosh died.