Australian Descendants of “The Skye Lochinvar” By A. Grahame MacDonald FSA Scot

The elopement of Donald Macdonald of the Monkstadt family of Skye and Jessie Macdonald of Balranald in North Uist has been the subject of numerous songs, poems and two books. Donald came to be known as The Skye Lochinvar and this is the title of a book written by Donald Budge and published in 1961. An earlier book entitled “The Courtship and Marriage of Donald Macdonald, Monkstadt” by William Mackenzie was published in 1900. The story of the elopement, trial and acquittal of Donald will not be repeated here as our current interest concerns the family in Australia.  The couple emigrated to Victoria in 1852 and disembarked in Melbourne.

Donald was one of many children of Donald Macdonald of Monkstadt [1] and his wife Jessie Macdonald of the Skeabost family. Both families were cadets of the Macdonalds of Sleat. Jessie was a daughter of James Thomas Macdonald of Balranald, another cadet of Sleat, and his wife Jane, daughter of Captain Donald Mackenzie of Hartfield, Gairloch, Ross-shire. Donald had several brothers and sisters in Australia whose lives are mostly fairly well documented. Unfortunately little is known of Donald’s and Jessie’s lives in their adopted country.  Donald was appointed pound-keeper at Longwood, Victoria in 1857 and held the position until the pound was abolished. He then became involved in the pastoral industry and at one time managed “Avenel Station” in Victoria. The home property of the Macdonalds was situated on the Winding Creek, near Longwood and was named “Hartfield” after Jessie’s mother’s home in Scotland. Donald was reckoned to be one of the best judges of horses and cattle of his time. He died in 1894 aged sixty nine. Jessie died two years later at the age of sixty seven. They had twelve children, six of whom survived their parents.

James Thomas was their first child. He was born in 185 and died three years later. Eliza Alexandrina was born in 1854 and Jemima in 1855. Then came Hugh Peter in 1857. He followed the pastoral industry and at one time occupied ‘Bulloo Downs’ and ‘Dynevor Downs’ in Queensland. He was a Councillor on the Bulloo Shire Council at Thargomindah and was a justice of the Peace. H.P. Macdonald returned to Victoria and purchased the well-known ‘Seven Creeks Run” near Euroa in 1894. This property has always been a magnificent showpiece of the Australian Wool Industry. An album of Australian Bush Songs bears the name of the station as its title. Mr Macdonald sold ‘Seven Creeks” in 1913.

Hugh Peter Macdonald married his cousin Eleanor Chrisp. They had three children. Lorna remained single and lived at ‘Kelvin’, Bringelly, New South Wales. Ian died young. Jessie married a Mr Vincent and had a family.

Jean Macdonald was born in 1859. She married James Edward Maxfield. They had two sons and a daughter. Gordon was a captain in the A.I.F. in World War I. He won the Military Cross and was killed in action. He wrote many interesting letters from the war zone and a number of these letters are housed in the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra. Gordon Maxfield left no issue. He had a sister Dorothy who died single and a brother MacDonald, known as Don. Don Maxfield spent some of his early years as a jackaroo on “Thurulgoona Station” near Cunnamulla, Queensland, whilst that property was under the management of his uncle James Kenneth Macdonald. He later became a dentist and practised for many years at Euroa in Victoria where he was a well-known sportsman and a popular citizen. He married Florence MacKenzie and had a son John who is living in Canberra. John Maxfield has in his possession photographs of Donald and Jessie Macdonald, several of their children and a number of portraits of Donald and Jessie’s ancestors and relatives in Scotland. Don and Florence Maxfield also had a daughter Fay, now Mrs Belcher, who lives in Western Australia and is a world authority on occupational therapy.

Donald and Jessie had a son James, known as Jamie in 1860. Nothing is known of him. Presumably he died young. Their next son was Alexander Cornfute. He was born in 1861. At age fifteen he joined the Railway Department, doing survey work between Benalla and Yarrawonga. Three years after he left this work and through his father’s influence, he obtained a position on Bulloo Downs in Queensland. As a result. Alexander set out for Adelaide in 1880 to join one of the Bulloo Downs drovers who was returning to that station. He commenced work there as a jackaroo at a wage of one pound per week. Despite his liking for stock work Alexander Macdonald was soon appointed to the position of book keeper and placed in charge of the station store. After three years of this indoor work, he was allowed to become a stockman and later was promoted to head stockman. Within a few years he had taken charge of the station which ran 40,000 sheep and held the position until the property was sold to the well-known pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman (The Cattle King). This brought to an end AC Macdonald’s twenty three year association with  Bulloo Downs. He purchased ‘Onepah’, a sheep station just across the border in New South Wales and adjoining Bulloo Downs. He later sold this property and purchased several stations in the Broken Hill district of New South Wales, ultimately owning a combined area of 2.000 square miles.

Mr Macdonald was particularly fond of sport, especially horse racing. He was president of the Tibooburra Jockey Club and was considered to be a keen judge of horses, a trait which he is said to have inherited from his father. He married in l907 Bessie Gardiner and had six sons named Hector, Keith, Alastair, Malcolm, Gordon and John Hugh. They also had three daughters. Jean, Ailsa and Sheila.

The next child born to Donald and Jessie was named Jessie Matilda. She was born in 1864 and died during the following year.

Donald Somerled Alexander was born in 1866. He married Florence Emily Garde and had a son Alexander Gordon and a daughter Heather. Alexander was a clerk before joining the army. He was killed in World War II at age 24. He was not married. Heather married Eric Arthur Andrew and has a family of three, Fiona Ruth, employed in the Immigration Department, Gordon Alexander, a Naval Officer and Ian Macdonald, a detective. DSA Macdonald was an accountant with the Victorian Railways Department.

The fifth daughter of Donald and Jessie was named Flora Louden. She was born in 1869 and died in that year.

James Kenneth was Donald and Jessie’s youngest son. His birth occurred in 1872. He was engaged in pastoral work all his life. In 1910 he became a manager of “Thurulgoona Station” near Cunnamulla, Queensland. This property was owned by The Squatting Investment Company in Melbourne. Soon after his arrival in Cunnamulla, JK Macdonald became president of the Cunnamulla Branch of the United Graziers Association. He held that position until 1914. Whilst managing Thurulgoona, Mr Macdonald leased on his own behalf a 20,000 acres property named “Big Rocky”. It was originally selected by John Macdonald in 1907 and transferred to Hector Cameron Macdonald in 1913. It is not known what relationship, if any, existed between these Macdonalds. JK Macdonald surrendered the lease in 1928. He continued to manage “Thurulgoona” until his death in 1936. In 1902 he married Ada Caldwell at Holbrook, New South Wales. They had two sons, Kenneth Ross, who was born in l903 and Colin Caldwell, born in 1905. Ross, as he was known, went to Western Australia to manage a cattle station. He married Lorna Moffatt of Brisbane, whose mother was a Macdonald of the Rigg and Balvicquean family, cadets of the House of Sleat. They had a son Ranald and a daughter Lorina Murphy. Colin Macdonald operated a carrying business in Cunnamulla. He had a son Ian and two daughters, Janica and Susan.

The youngest child of Donald and Jessie Macdonald was named Lila. She married a Mr Walton and had two children, Jessie and William John, known as John. Jessie married a Mr McMillan and had five children. Alexander Walton, David Norman, Kenneth, Donald Keith and John Masterton. Kenneth and John remained single. The other brothers have several descendants in Victoria and New South Wales. (David) Norman owned “Wantagong Station”, near Holbrook, in New South Wales. Donald has a property named “Warilya” in the Benalla district of Victoria.

John Walton married Mary Allan of Brisbane, Queensland. They had three children, Donald, a farmer of Forest Hill, Queensland, Jessie Denning of Ipswich, Queensland and Wilga Crawford of Kempsey, New South Wales.

It is interesting to note that a number of descendants of Donald and Jessie Macdonald followed Donald’s interest in the land and stock. It is not known how many descendants are living today but there are obviously a great number of them in Australia. Just as their forebears featured largely in the history of the Highlands of Scotland, several descendants of Donald and Jessie have contributed lo the history of the pastoral industry in Australia.

 Footnote to the Online Edition.

  1. The author is in error here. Donald “Lochinvar’s” father was Hugh Peter Macdonald of Monkstadt, who was married to Jessie Macdonald of Skeabost. Photographs below by courtesy of Meta-Anne Hudson: Great, Great Granddaughter of Hugh Peter of Monkstadt and Jessie of Skeabost.
Hugh Peter Macdonald of
Jessie Macdonald of