Flora and Allen MacDonald in America by Robert Archibald Logan, Duluth, Minnesota.

Flora MacDonald, daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Milton, South Uist, step-daughter of “One-eyed Hugh” MacDonald of Armadale and Sleat; wife of Allen MacDonald of Kingsburgh, Isle of Skye; mother of four sons who served in the armed forces of the British Crown in North America during the American War of Independence, 1775-1783, was one of the most renowned female members of Clan Donald.

Many tales have been told and reams have been written about the time of Flora MacDonald in Scotland. Perhaps the following notes, compiled in the course of genealogical research on the ancestry of this Canadian-born descendant of MacDonalds of Skye and North Carolina may be of some interest in reporting some of the little known facts and events in the lives of Flora and her husband and sons after they departed from Scotland and came to the continent of North America, and in showing how she, and some members of her family were involved in the early days of North Carolina and “New Scotland” some thirty years after her name became so well known.

Flora lived with her husband in North Carolina from the autumn of 1774 to February 1776. She lived there without her husband for over two years while he was a prisoner, but she was represented in Nova Scotia by a son or husband, continuously, from July 1775, to October 1784. Her own, shorter, sojourn in Nova Scotia, in the cold winter of 1778-1779, was but one interval in her life.

Her life began, in the year 1722, on the island of South Uist, but before her life ended, on the Isle of Skye, in 1790, she had travelled many miles on land and on the sea; had been much involved in wars, imprisonment, and uncertainty of fate of loved ones lost in war-time; had been a prisoner of the British Crown, and a prisoner of men rebelling against the British Crown; had personally saved from capture – and almost certain execution – by the British army. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and, although the Prince escaped, she had been captured and taken as a prisoner to the Tower of London, and had spent a year in captivity before being allowed to return to Scotland.

Her bearing and behaviour during her captivity augmented the glamour of her exploits, and her fame was spread by friends of the Stuart cause in Great Britain and in France until it became all out of proportion to the time she had actually spent with the Prince; and her name, in song and story, became well known all over Europe.

She married Kingsburgh with whom she lived on the Isle of Skye for twenty-four years, and with whom she emigrated to North Carolina shortly before the outbreak of the American War of Independence. She took an active part in urging the Highland settlers of North Carolina to remain loyal to the British Crown; and suffered for it by being left alone, virtually a prisoner in the hands of the rebelling Americans, while her husband was held, far away, for nearly two years, as a prisoner-of-war captured in battle.

Following the reunion with her “exchanged” husband in I 778, she lived in New York, Nova Scotia, London, and the island of her birth, before her life ended on the Isle of Skye in the year 1790. She had five sons and two daughters. Her two sons-in-law and her four older sons served in the British armed forces in North America. At one time, she, her husband, and three of their sons, were all residing in Nova Scotia. Two of those sons disappeared, separately, and after long periods of uncertainty were presumed to have been lost at sea, during the war.

Because of his loyalty to the British Crown, her husband lost all his rather extensive property in North Carolina. After the war he cleared land and built a house to be her home, on the Kennetcook River in Nova Scotia. However, her old age and failure of the British Government to properly compensate her husband for his losses in North Carolina prevented her return to Nova Scotia and to the home there that her husband, in his “Memorial” to the British Government, described as his only ” place of residence or abode.”

In the autumn of the year 1774, Flora and her husband and several of their children arrived in North Carolina to make a new home in the New World, among the many Scottish Highlanders who had settled in the Cape Fear River valley of North Carolina.

Unfortunately for Flora MacDonald and her family, their hope to live in peace with their old friends, relatives, and fellow-countrymen, in the New World, was not to be realised, because of the impending struggle between the American colonists and the British Government. Because of her renown, the British authorities looked upon Flora and her husband as the most likely persons to be able to persuade the Highlander settlers of North Carolina to remain loyal to the British Government. They took action to ensure that her family became too involved to do anything but to serve the English King and his cause, even if Flora had desired otherwise.

This is intended to be, not a study of the life of Flora MacDonald, but an attempt to extend and to rectify the records relative to the activities of her husband and sons in North America.

The name of Flora MacDonald’s husband was frequently written as ” Allan” by others, but, in all American Loyalist Claims signed by him, either on his own behalf or when signing declarations or certificates on behalf of others, he used the form “Allen” for his first name and Mc. Donald or Mc: Donald for his surname.

From various letters addressed to her by close friends, or in letters from relatives mentioning her by name, and from the spelling of her name in the text and signature of her marriage contract, it would appear that the name by which Flora was generally known sounded more like Floray or Flory than like the Florah as indicated by English sound-values of the letters.

In the case of the husband of Flora MacDonald, we have documentary evidence of some events in his life in North America in the records of the North Carolina Militia; in the British Army records; in letters he wrote to Congress while he was a prisoner-of-war; in the report of the committee appointed to investigate the results of the action at Moore’s Creek Bridge; in Memorials submitted by him to the British Treasury Board and to the Commissioners appointed to study claims of American Loyalists; and in information given by him in statements in support of claims of other American Loyalists.

Erroneous statements that have appeared in print include the following:

1. That Flora brought two daughters to North Carolina.

2. That in 1775 or 1776 Governor Martin of North Carolina gave her husband a commission as Brigadier-General.

3. That when the royal banner was raised at Cross Creek, a few days before the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, February 1776, the Loyalist “army” was under the command of General Donald MacDonald, with Allen MacDonald of Kingsburgh as Brigadier-General.

4. That only one of Allen’s sons was taken prisoner with him.

5. That he did not see his wife from the time he was taken prisoner until he returned to Scotland after the war.

6. That his wife sailed from Charleston to her native land, in 1779, leaving her husband still a prisoner in a Halifax jail.

7. That during the war their son Alexander was an officer in the navy.

8. That their son Ranald served during the war only in the Marines.

9. That Ranald was wounded while serving on board HMS Princessa as Captain of Marines

10. That Ranald and his brother Alexander were lost at sea together when a ship captured from the French sank in mid ocean.

11. That when peace was restored Flora s husband was liberated from the Halifax jail and made as little delay as possible in returning to Skye where he again became the leaseholder of Kingsburgh.

Scottish Highlanders began emigrating to the Colony of North Carolina in the 1730’s. By the time of the outbreak of the American revolution large numbers of Highlanders had settled along the banks of the Cape Fear River, occupying a large area of country of which Cross Creek, now called Fayetteville, was the chief town.

To this part of the New World came Flora and Allen MacDonald in the autumn of 1774. They were accompanied by their sons Alexander and James (and, possibly Ranald) and by their daughter Anne (Anny, Nan, Nanny) and her husband Lieutenant Alexander MacLeod and the small MacLeod children. They were accompanied also by a small retinue of indentured male and female servants.

Relatives of Flora who had preceded her to North Carolina included: her step-father, the former Captain Hugh MacDonald who, in all probability, had been the brain behind the escape of Prince Charles (whom he traditionally believed he was obligated to protect as his lawful monarch; in spite of his lack of enthusiasm for Charles Edward Stuart as a man); her half-sister Annabella and her husband Captain Alexander MacDonald of Cuidrach and several of their sons, and her half-sister Florence and her husband Archibald MacQueen, who lived on a plantation of Alexander MacDonald of Cuidrach.

Allen MacDonald had a cousin named Alexander MacDonald; a veteran of thirty years service as an officer in the British Army who had settled on Staten Island, New York, several years earlier. He was to play an active part in the War of Independence and to leave valuable records of some phases of it, including interesting items of information on the activities of Allen and his three sons. Alexander, Ranald, and Charles, while serving with the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment (or The 84th Regiment of Foot) of the British Army in the Carolinas, New York, and Nova Scotia.

Allen MacDonald purchased two plantations in North Carolina. The smaller had an area of fifty acres of which thirty acres were in production. The larger plantation consisted of 475 acres of which seventy were in cultivation, Both had good orchards of peach, apple, and other fruits and were equipped with stock and the usual complement of buildings. He also owned ‘” grist mill on a good run of water, by permission of Assembly, the yearly income of which Keeped the whole Family in Bread.”

The Scottish Highlanders in North Carolina had experienced too much of war, and of the aftermath of war, to desire anything but peace in the land of their adoption. They knew from personal experience how it felt to be on the losing side, and, while they bitterly hated the English King and all things English, they also knew from bitter experience the seemingly unconquerable strength of the English King’s military might.

The Highlanders knew that trouble was brewing between the native-born Americans and their rulers in England but all they themselves desired, politically, was to be left alone. They were interested in homes, not in participation in any political struggle. Many of them, particularly the older settlers and the younger men, would have been content to live under “patriot” rule, but the too vivid memories of what happened to rebels vanquished by the British Army in the Scottish Highlands caused the newer arrivals among the settlers to hesitate before throwing in their lot with the rebelling Americans.

One of these was Allen MacDonald’s cousin Captain Alexander MacDonald in the Colony of New York. He had been an officer in the British Army for over twenty-nine years. When his regiment (the 77th) had been reduced, in 1766, he had been put on half-pay as a Captain-Lieutenant and he had settled in America. He had acquired several large tracts of land and had business interests, and his residence, on Staten Island, New York.

According to his own statements, he was the first to propose the raising of the corps that became known as the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment. This proposal was made in October 1774, and was given to General Gage, Commander in Chief of the British Forces in America, by Captain MacDonald’s friend Major John Small who later commanded the Second Battalion of the Regiment with Captain MacDonald as his senior captain. But as sometimes happens in such cases where an idea originated by some man “in the field” mysteriously appears as the original idea of, and is accredited to, some man much closer to headquarters, much of the credit for this idea was given to a Lieutenant Colonel Allan MacLean, of whom it was claimed that be made the proposal to the British Government early in 1775 to train the Highland emigrants in New York and in North Carolina. His proposal was accepted and in April 1775, he, with three other officers, was sent to America to carry out his plans. At the same time, instructions were sent to the governors of North Carolina and New York to assist him.

On the 12th of June 1775, the Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America, General Gage, at Boston issued orders empowering Lt. Col. Allan MacLean to form a Corps of two Battalions to consist of ten Companies each, to be called the Royal Highland Emigrants. In a footnote to the order was added, “Although these instructions mention two battalions to be raised, yet General Gage would only give commissions for one until further orders. 12th June 1775.”

Under this authority Lieutenant Colonel MacLean went diligently to work in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Canada. At that time and for nearly one hundred years after the War of Independence the colonial Province of Nova Scotia was not a part of Canada. The name Canada at the time of the war had reference only to those parts of North America now known as the Canadian Provinces of Ontario (“Upper Canada”) and Quebec (“Lower Canada”).

The First Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment was formed, chiefly, of men from New York and Canada. The Second Battalion, formed a little later, was made up of men from North Carolina and Nova Scotia, and had its headquarters in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Major Commandant of the “2nd Battalion” was Major John Small, date of commission 13th June 1775. His senior captain was Captain Alexander MacDonald of Staten Island, New York (cousin of Allen MacDonald) who was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia to be in charge of the headquarters unit set up in that Province.

While Captain Alexander MacDonald was attending to the Nova Scotia end of the regiment, a Major Donald MacDonald, accompanied by a Captain Donald MacLeod, was sent to North Carolina empowered to select and appoint officers for the formation of three companies of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment in North Carolina.

Before the arrival of Major Donald MacDonald in North Carolina, the local Provincial Governor, Josiah Martin, had determined to set up his own militia and to enlist the services of the North Carolina Highlanders in it, although he had probably received from London the notice of the proposed formation of the “Royal” regiment. Governor Martin had consulted Allen MacDonald and the latter’s son-in-law, Lieutenant Alexander MacLeod. Apparently, he had much respect for the twenty-two years of active military experience of MacLeod.

On July 4th, 1775, Governor Martin wrote to Alexander MacLeod. “I concur in your opinion of your services being more useful here than anywhere else and I have concerted a plan with McDonald (of Kingsborough). I had the pleasure of receiving the favor of your letter yesterday by Mr. McDonald of Kingsborough with whose acquaintance I am so pleased …”

A few days earlier, Governor Martin had written to the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, requesting that he be authorised to recruit a battalion of Highlanders in North Carolina. He wrote, in part: “I would most humbly beg leave to recommend Mr. Allen McDonald of Kingsborough to be Major and Captain Alexr. McLeod of the Marines now on half pay to be first Captain who besides being men of great worth and good character, have most extensive influence over the Highlanders here, a great part of which are of their own names and families …”

The Alexander McLeod so recommended to be first Captain was Alexander MacLeod of the MacLeods of Dunvegan, Skye, son-in-law of Flora and Allen MacDonald. His wife was their eldest daughter, Anne, who, with her three children, was living on a plantation owned by MacLeod in North Carolina.

Major Donald MacDonald of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment arrived in North Carolina in August 1775 and, according to his own statements, spent much of the time at the house of this Alexander MacLeod. When the list of selected officers was ready to be sent to the Commander in Chief at Boston, Major MacDonald detailed Captain Alexander MacLeod to carry his reports to Boston. Near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Captain MacLeod was met by Governor Martin who ordered him to turn around and return to “the back country” where Martin had more urgent need of his services.

While awaiting confirmation of his appointments, Major MacDonald proceeded to assist Governor Martin. When the governor ordered the mobilisation of the Highlanders at Cross Creek in mid-February 1776, Donald MacDonald was placed in charge of the force that was to march to the seacoast to be taken by ships to Nova Scotia to be trained and supplied with arms.

It has been generally assumed that Donald MacDonald was given the effective rank of General in the North Carolina Militia but according to statements made by him, and as indicated by his signatures in various documents in the Public Record Office, London. Whatever may have been his temporary rank in the North Carolina Militia, his rank in the Regular British Army at the time was that of Major. Even as late as 1784 his rank was only that of Lieutenant Colonel.

Allen MacDonald (of Kingsburgh) was in command of the Anson Battalion of the Highlanders, at Cross Creek, with the Militia rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His son-in-law, Alexander MacLeod, with the Militia rank of Major, reported to “General” Donald MacDonald with a company of 450 men “regularly formed and officered which lie commanded.” James MacDonald a younger son of Kingsburgh was a Captain at the head of “a Company of his own raising.”

On the way from Cross Creek to the coast, the Highlanders, half of whom were unarmed, were met at Moore’s Creek Bridge by patriots who were better armed and more skilled in North American methods of fighting. In the ensuing engagement, the Highlanders were out-manoeuvred and decisively defeated, with over eight hundred of their number being taken prisoner. Included among the prisoners-of-war were Allen MacDonald of Kingsburgh, his sons Alexander and James, and his plantation-owner neighbour Lieutenant Miles MacInnes, great, great, grandfather of this writer.

Allen’s young son James and Miles MacInnes either escaped soon after capture or, like many others who were young and, therefore, might be persuaded to join the patriots, were allowed to return to their homes, but Allen and his son Alexander were held as prisoners-of-war.

While Allen MacDonald was a prisoner of the Americans be wrote letters to Congress asking for better treatment as a prisoner and asking that he and his son Alexander be exchanged for American prisoners of equal rank held by the British The American Congress eventually agreed to allow Allen and his son to be exchanged but advised him that nobody on the British side appeared to be interested in him or in trying to arrange for his exchange, and that until there was some formal request from the British authorities for such an exchange there was little the American authorities could do about it.

Strange as it may seem at this time, Allen was given permission by the American authorities to go, on parole, to the British Army Headquarters, in New York to attempt to arrange for his own, and his son’s, exchange. The exchange for both officers was arranged and effected.

In a memorial to the British Treasury Board, signed at London, 8th February 1785, by Allen MacDonald, it was stated, with reference to the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge: “Your Memorialist who had the honour of commanding that day tho unfortunate was with his two sons and three indented servants among the prisoners, being deprived of their arms, baggage, horses, money, etc.”

In a letter which Allen MacDonald wrote to the American Congress in the summer of 1777, he stated “I am a Captain in the Regular Service and my son a Lieutenant. I rank as Lieutenant Colonel of Militia in North Carolina.”

While Allen MacDonald was a prisoner of war, the company of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment to which he had been assigned, and on whose muster roll his name was carried, was stationed in Nova Scotia.

The formation of “A Corps of 2 battalions of 10 companies each – to be called the Royal Highland Emigrants was authorised by General Gage, Commander in Chief of all His Majesty s Forces in North America, at Boston 12th June 1775 but the Regiment was not placed on Establishment until 25th December 1776, although companies of the two battalions had been on duty in the Carolinas, Nova Scotia or Canada since soon after the formation was authorised.

The list of names of officers of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment, or the 84th Foot,” as it appeared in the British Army List for 1779 included:

Major Commandant: John Small, date of commission 13th June 1775.

Captains: Alexander MacDonald (writer of the”Letter-book”), date of commission 14th June 1775. Two Allan or Allen MacDonalds, dates of commissions 14th June 1775.

Lieutenants: Alexander MacDonald, 14th June 1775 (2nd son of Flora). Ranald MacDonald, 25th June1775 (3rd son of Flora). Charles MacDonald, 18th May 1776 (1st son of Flora).

Ranald MacDonald, third son of Flora and Allen, was with Captain Alexander MacDonald in Nova Scotia, from September 1775, as Lieutenant and Adjutant. With him was his friend Lauchlin MacLean, Lieutenant and Quarter Master. It can be assumed that Captain Alexander MacDonald chose Ranald to be his assistant because of their family relationship and because Ranald had had some service in the Marines before coming to America.

Stories written about the life of Flora MacDonald usually repeat the tale that Ranald was a Marine officer from before the war until he was “lost at sea” shortly before the end of the war, but there can be no doubt about his being on military duty in Nova Scotia in 1775-1779. He did hold a commission in the Marines, as a Captain, from 1780 until he mysteriously disappeared. It was reported that he was drowned in the sinking of a ship captured from the French (La ville de Paris), which was being sailed to England as a prize. Another report was that he had been wounded while serving as a Captain of Marines on the Princessa in a battle with the French in the West Indies in 1782. A search of the official records of the time has shown definitely that he was not Captain of Marines on the Princessa, and there is no known record of his having been at any time on board the prize-ship on which he was supposed to have been lost. To this date, no documentary record of his actual fate has been found.

There is a possibility that he may be identified with a Ranald MacDonald who, with Miles MacInnes (mentioned earlier), settled for permanent residence on lands in the Musquodoboit River Valley of Nova Scotia, soon after the end of the war.

As an indication of what could possibly have happened to Ranald MacDonald soon after his arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and could possibly have influenced him to return quietly to Nova Scotia after being ship-wrecked or a prisoner of war, the following is quoted from a letter written by Captain Alex. MacDonald to his Commanding Officer, Major Small, relative to Ranald’s close associate, Quarter Master Lauchlan MacLean: “With the utmost difficulty I saved Lieutenant Lauchlan MacLean from destruction, that is to say, from being married to a girl who had not a six pence on earth, its true she is so very handsome that I could kiss her myself if I was not a married man.”

It is not known, at this time, how or when Charles, the oldest son of Flora and Allen, arrived in North America, but it is believed that he arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from England, in the Spring of 1776. In orders of General Sir William Howe, British Army Headquarters, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for 18th May 1776, appeared the following: “Promotions – Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment – Charles MacDonald, Gentleman, to be Lieutenant, 18th May.”

Soon after Allen MacDonald was exchanged he was detailed to serve with the British Army at New York, detached from his regular unit. He wrote to his cousin Captain Alexander MacDonald at Halifax. The latter wrote to Allen urging him to come to Nova Scotia as soon as possible, “to be at the head of your Company” and to be a good influence on “your sons Charles and Ranald.” He also advised Allen not to waste money helping Charles or Ranald to purchase higher commissions. He pointed out that all three sons of Allen were “extremely well provided for” and Allen should not go further in debt trying to improve their positions in the army. He informed Allen that Charles was “a fine fellow when sober but rather unhappy when he is any way disguised in Liquor.”

After being exchanged, Allen MacDonald spent about a year in New York in command of a company of approximately one hundred men who had formerly lived in North Carolina. He apparently preferred New York to the wilds of Nova Scotia and remained there in spite of the letters from his cousin Captain Alexander MacDonald urging him to take his proper place at the head of his Company in Halifax.

In a Memorial to the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Claims of American Loyalists signed by “Allen Mc. Donald and notarised at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 3rd, 1784, it was stated that he “was ordered to join his Regiment in Nova Scotia in October, 1778, with which he did duty until its reduction in October last.”

While Allen and Alexander MacDonald were prisoners of war, Flora MacDonald and her daughter Anne (wife of Alexander MacLeod) remained in North Carolina. In April 1778, Alexander MacLeod was permitted to move them, with the MacLeod children and indentured female servants, from North Carolina to New York.

In October of 1778 MacLeod took his family to London where they lived for seven months. His wife and children were then left at his old home on the Isle of Skye and he went back to America as a staff officer with General Clinton.

It is not clear from the records whether Flora MacDonald went to Nova Scotia, from New York, with her husband or whether she followed him, perhaps on the ship that carried the MacLeod family to England.

When Captain Allen MacDonald arrived in Nova Scotia, in the autumn of 1778, he was at least fifty-seven years of age and, apparently, was considered to be too old for further active service “at the front,” but he was retained on duty in various parts of Nova Scotia until the end of hostilities and the reduction or demobilisation of his regiment. Allen and Flora spent the winter of 1778-1779 and at least part of the summer at Fort Edward, Windsor, Nova Scotia.

In a letter reputedly written by Flora on October 21st, 1789, less than six months before her death, is found the following: “I was obliged, tho tender, to follow and was very nigh deaths door, by a violent disorder the rough sea and the long passage had brought on. At last landing in Halifax, were allowed to stay there for eight days on account of my tender state. The ninth day sett off for Windsor, on the Bay of Minas, throw woods and snow and arrived the fifth day. There we continued all winter and spring, covered with frost and snow and about starved with cold to death, it being the worst winter ever seen there…”

In the autumn of 1779 Flora crossed the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to England. She remained in London during the following winter before returning to her old home in the Hebrides.

Promotion in the British Army was very slow for those officers unable to purchase commissions. Allen MacDonald continued as a Captain in the Royal Highland Emigrants or 84th Regiment but his sons Charles and Ranald in some way acquired higher commissions in other regiments. Ranald became a Captain in the Marines and Charles became a Captain in Lord Cathcart’s regiment of the British Legion.

The younger son, James, became a Lieutenant in Tarleton’s section of the British Legion. Alexander was being sent to England for his health when the ship carrying him disappeared without trace.

According to Allen MacDonald’s “Memorials’, to the Commissioners inquiring into American Loyalist claims, his sons Alexander and James were both taken prisoner at Moore’s Creek Bridge, but only Alexander was held. In his petition to Congress of July 1777, Allen stated: “My wife is in North Carolina seven hundred miles from me in a very sickly tender state of health, with a younger son (James), a daughter (Anne, wife of Major Alexander MacLeod) and four grand children.”

In his ” Loyalist Claims” Alexander MacLeod stated that in February 1776, he left behind in North Carolina a pregnant wife and three small children. According to North Carolina rate Records XII, 64-65, leave was granted to Major MacLeod “to carry out with his wife and son and Mrs. McDonald and her four children with their indentured female servants.” This is obviously intended to mean MacLeod’s wife and her four children, and, Mrs. MacDonald (mother of Mrs MacLeod) and her son, James MacDonald. Major MacLeod reported in his Memorials that he was permitted to move his family from North Carolina to New York, April 1778. No record has been found to indicate that young James MacDonald went to Nova Scotia. In November 1781 he was in New York, serving as a lieutenant in the British Legion, according to a letter, from his father to his mother, now in the Jacobite Memoirs.

In a Memorial addressed to the Treasury Board, London (Public Record Office, A.O. 13. Bundle 87) signed by Allen MacDonald in London on February 8th, 1785 it is stated, with reference to his son Alexander: “…was afterwards lost in his passage to England for the benefit of his health, which was much impaired by constant Light Infantry service in New York, etc.”

According to letters preserved in the Jacobite Memoirs, Flora MacDonald wrote to a friend, Mrs. MacKenzie of Delvin, that she had received a letter from her husband, dated May 10th, 1780, in which he informed her that their son “Charles has got command of a troop of horse in Lord Cathcart’s regiment, but Alas! I have heard nothing since I left you about my son Sandy.”

Nearly two years later, Flora wrote to the same person and stated that she had received a letter from her husband, dated from Halifax, “the 12 Nov. ’81” with information that their son “Charles is a Captain in the British Legion and James a Lieutenant in the same. They are both in New York. Ranald is a Captain of Marines and was with Rodney at the taking of St. Eustati. As for my son Sandy who was missing … nothing certain.”

While Allen MacDonald was in Nova Scotia he had been led to believe that his son Ranald had been lost at sea. In January 1785 Allen wrote a Memorial to the Treasury Board and a fairly similar one to the Commissioners for American Loyalist Claims. In the former he stated in part: “… what added to the utter misery of your Memorialist was the loss of his third son, Captain Ranald McDonald of Marines in the La Veill de Paris having served all the time of the war under Lords Rodney and Hood.”

The Order for the Day for October 7th, 1783, of Brigadier General Fox, Head of the Forces in Nova Scotia, announced that the 84th  Regiment of Foot or Royal Highland Emigrants would be disbanded on the 10th of October 1783 at Windsor, Nova Scotia. On that date a muster was taken, a copy of which is now in the Public Record Office, London; reference number W.O.12-8806. Heading the list of names of the 6th Company is that of “Allen McDonald, Captain. date of commission 14th June, 1775. Present for the muster.”

In the Crown Land Office. Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a ” General List and Returns” of the different companies of the 2nd Battalion of His Majesty’s 84th Regiment as they stood when disbanded in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in October 1783 specifying, among other things, those who meant to avail themselves of the offer of Crown Land in Nova Scotia. Heading the list of those men of the 6th Company wishing to avail themselves of such land is the name of Captain Allen McDonald.

A blanket grant of some 105,000 acres of “Crown Land” (or wild, ungranted land owned and controlled by the government) in what, in 1968, is Hants County, Nova Scotia and covering what are now the districts of Nine Mile River, Gore, and Kennetcook, was made to the colonel of the 84th Regiment in trust for himself and the officers and men under him.

Land on the Kennetcook River was assigned to Captain Allen MacDonald and, contrary to popular belief but according to his own statements in his “Memorials,” he remained in Nova Scotia for a year after his regiment was reduced. During that time he worked on his Regimental Grant of Land building a dwelling and clearing several acres, until lack of funds compelled him to discontinue his labours, in October 1784.

The British Government had set up, in London, a Commission to inquire into the claims for compensation for property losses and services of the men of the former British colonies who, in consequence of their loyalty to the British Crown, had suffered loss of their property in what had become the United States of America. Like many others who could ill afford the time or the expense to make personal presentation before the Commission, Allen MacDonald tried to have his claims handled by an agent.

A “Memorial,” or statement of claims, was prepared and was signed by Allen MacDonald, with due notarisation, on the third day of January 1784, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was sent to London and was submitted to the Commission by an agent appointed by Allen to act on his behalf. While waiting for a favourable reply, he spent the time trying to prepare land and buildings for a new home for himself and his wife on the land assigned to him on the Kennetcook River in Nova Scotia.

In the early autumn of 1784, Lieutenant Miles MacInnes, Allen’s former neighbour in North Carolina and one of the junior officers in his Anson Battalion at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, arrived in Nova Scotia from London and was able to report to his former commanding officer that by his personal appearance in London to support his “Loyalist Claims,” he (MacInnes) had succeeded in collecting, at least some, compensation for the loss of his plantation in Anson County, North Carolina, and had been awarded an annual allowance or pension of twenty pounds sterling.

Soon after this Allen MacDonald set out for London in the hope of having similar success by a personal appearance. Miles MacInnes remained in Nova Scotia and was granted land on the Musquodoboit River, where he became a prominent and prosperous citizen and lived until 1818. Miles and his wife, the former Christiana MacDonald, a relative of Flora, brought up a family of three sons and six daughters, the most of whose many living descendants now reside in the USA.

Although Allen went to London to attempt to collect compensation for his losses in North Carolina, it was with the declared intention of returning to Nova Scotia as he bad “no other place of residence or abode.”

In his Memorial to the Treasury Board, dated at London, February 8th, 1785, Allen wrote of his work on the land, as follows:

“Your Memorialist hopes the Right Honourable Board will Order the Contents of the Annexed Schedule, being money expended, and value lost, by an old worn out Officer on the Service of his King and Country having lost the coinfort and strength of his Old Age, his Estate, his all, and an Old wife, a daughter, and himself to Support with only a Very Small income, this money would contribute to make his living easy in his old days and now in reduced and infirm state he is having neither dwelling or place of abode but his Regimental grant of Lands on the River Kennetcook, in Nova Scotia, where he has a little neat hutt, and cleared a few acres last summer, means very soon to return had he but this money to carry on his improvements which he was obliged to give up last October for want of Cash.”







To my travelling expenses from Highland Settlements in Anson County in North Carolina to Fort Johnston on the River Cape Fear (being fourteen days from home) to settle the plan of rising the Highlanders with Governor Martin who was at that time in the Fort.2800
To the value of 9 stand of Arms purchased from Messrs. Marshal and George Milk both merchants of Cross Creek £3 10 0 each.31100
To a Silver mounted Riffle bot. of Mr. George Milln.990
To Caleb Tulishtons Riffle.700
To a Cask of Rum tot. from Mr. Gillis of Cross Creek for the use of the Highlanders on the Expedition.7100
To the value of five horses taken from me and two sons when made prisoners after the engagement the Highlanders had with General Caswell at Moores Creek with two Batt. Horses included.85100
To my own Family Arms, Including my three Indented Servants Arms.4296
To Blankets, shoes and Shirts purchased and given to the Common Highlanders.1894
To my own and Two Sons Baggage with Sadles and being robed of everything but barely as we stood.5800
To Expenses at Different Meetings with the Regulators and Highlanders &c. and money given to Different Expresses.11151


In a Memorial to the Commissioners Appointed by Act of Parliament for Enquiring Into the Losses and Suffering of the American Loyalists which Allen MacDonald submitted at apparently the same time as his Memorial to the Treasury Board, he presented a claim for personal property losses, as distinct from losses directly connected with the army, and made mention of his land in Nova Scotia and his desire to return to it.







To the value of my large plantation consisting of 475 Acres of which 70 were cleared and in cultivation with 3 good orchards of Peach, Apple and other fruits: the Grants extant.30000
To the Value of the dwelling House with the Barn Keeping house, Kitchen, Stable, and Crib for holding Indian Corn &c.6000
To a Grist Mill in a good run of water, by permission of Assembly, the yearly income of which Keeped the whole Family in Bread.12000
To the value of my little plantation of 50 acres of which 30 were cleared land and in cultivation with a good Orchard of Peach, Apple and other Fruits; including the farmhouse Barn & Crib.11000
To the Value of Horses Rob’d and taken of both plantations.9600
To the Services of 5 indented men Servants three years of their time being unexpired.15000
To the Service of Three women Servants ditto.4500
To the Amount of the value of Books plate and furniture plundered by the Enemy.50000
By amount of Sundrie Articles saved by Mrs. Macdonald of the above Effects400046000


Allen MacDonald’s hopes for an early and satisfactory settlement of his claims for losses in North Carolina were not realised. Although he eventually was awarded the sum of 440 pounds sterling as compensation, age and lack of funds resulted in his inability to return to Nova Scotia to reside on his “Regimental Grant of Lands” on the River Kennetcook.

Because Allen did not return to Nova Scotia no formal “grant” of the land was issued in his name. Disappearance of official records has resulted in there being no known record of the exact location of Allen’s land in Nova Scotia.

Many of Flora’s near relatives who served on the British side in the War of Independence drifted back to the Highlands of Scotland, but others remained in North Carolina. Her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, died there in 1780. Her hopes for a happy home in North Carolina faded with the waning fortunes of British power in America. She, her husband, and her sons suffered much for the English King whose government failed to show much appreciation of, or thanks for, such sufferings and losses. Had her husband’s hopes for commensurate compensation for his financial and property losses in North Carolina been realised it is probable that Nova Scotia would have been the last place of residence of the famous Highland heroine, and one-time resident of North Carolina, Flora MacDonald.


Allan R. MacDonald, The Truth About Flora MacDonald, ed. Donald MacKinnon (Inverness, Scotland: The North Chronicle Office, 1938).

Alexander Macgregor, The Life of Flora Macdonald (Stirling, Scotland: Eneas Mackay, 1901).

Duane Meyer. The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1732-1776 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1961); see also R.A. Logan: Highlanders from Skye in North Carolina and in Nova Scotia, 1771-1818 in Scottish Genealogist XII-4 of Feb.1966.

Viola R. Cameron. Emigrants from Scotland to America, 1774-1775 (Baltimore: Southern Book Co., 1959). 9-13.

Robert O. DeMond, The Loyalists in North Carolina During the Revolution (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1940). 90.

Names of some publications containing mixtures of fact and fiction about Flora MacDonald are:

The Life of Flora Macdonald, Alexander Macgregor.

Flora Macdonald in Uist, William Jolly.

Flora MacDonald in America, I. P. MacLean.

Brave Sons of Skye, Col. John MacInnes.

History of the MacDonalds, Alexander MacKenzie.

Clan Donald, Archibald and Angus MacDonald.

Memorials of the ’45, Rev. Archibald MacDonald.

Prince Charles and His Ladies, Compton MacKenzie.

Skye Pioneers and ‘The island,’ M. A. MacQueen.

Flora Macdonald, James A. Macdonald.

Three books showing evidence of careful research relative to the life of Flora MacDonald by their authors are:

Lillian de la Torre, The White Rose of Stuart (New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1954).

Inglis Fletcher, The Scotswoman (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc., 1954).

Elizabeth G. Vining, Flora: A Biography (New York: Lippincott, 1966), but in U.K., Flora MacDonald, Geoffrey Bles, 1967. 25/-.

Alexander McDonald, The Letter-Book of Captain Alexander McDonald, in Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the year 1882 (New York: New York Historical Society, 1883), II, 223, 467.

George Patterson, History of the 84th or Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment. in More Studies in Nova Scotian History (Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Imperial Publishing Company, Ltd., 1941), 10.