Peter Alexander MacDonell

Peter, the younger son of the late Ranald MacDonell, CBE, 21st Chief of Glengarry and brother of Donald, the present chief, died peacefully at his home in Fortrose, Ross-shire, on 7th November 1986, aged 69.

He was born in the British Consulate at Baku in Southern Russia and, at the age of six months, was brought home to Scotland by his mother; a journey of great discomfort across Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway and the U-boat infested North Sea to Aberdeen.

Peter was educated at Bryanston School, Dorset, where he became Head of School and Captain of the Rugby XV. He displayed considerable talents as a painter and in 1937 went to the Edinburgh College of Art. While he always painted with originality and considerable artistic effect, in 1945 he decided on acting, joined the Everyman Theatre in Edinburgh and, a year later, transferred to the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow. In 1949-50 he became a free-lance broadcaster and acted in the West End of London. He was then appointed Deputy Entertainments Manager at the South Bank site of the Festival of Britain in London.

In 1952 Peter married Mary McAlpine, whom he had met when with the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow. In the same year they came to the Highlands when Peter was appointed Drama Adviser to the Highland Division of the Scottish Community Drama Association. Peter and Mary’s first daughter, Charlotte, was born in 1954 and Maria, their second daughter, arrived in 1959: it was in that same year that Peter was appointed Drama Adviser to the County of Leicester and the family moved to England, coming back to Fortrose for the holidays. They returned to their home in Scotland in 1971 when Peter accepted the job of Manager of Landmark Visitors’ Centre at Carrbridge, from which he retired in 1982.

He gave a great deal of his time to Clan Donald, particularly during the immediate post-war years when, following the death of his father in 1941 and the assumption of the Chief ship by his elder brother Donald, recently repatriated as a POW from Germany, the presence of Glengarry was missing in Clan Donald. Peter represented his elder brother and Chief with charm and understanding; indeed he displayed an abiding interest in Scottish genealogy and established many contacts with the Clan which were of great help to Donald when his Service and family commitments eventually made it possible for him to fulfil his role as Glengarry.

Peter was a man of many parts: a talented painter, carpenter and furniture-maker, a dedicated and knowledgeable gardener and a lover of music and the arts. Somewhat of an eccentric, he had great moral courage and held firmly to his beliefs regardless of convention or opposition. His contribution to the local community was considerable. He worked tirelessly and meticulously to promote drama, music and art. For many years he was Chairman of the Black Isle Arts Society: he was a very talented producer for the Black Isle Theatre Club. He will also be remembered for the valuable advice he so willingly gave to organisations such as Groam House Museum and to individuals interested in the arts. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
A.R.D. MacD.

Angela, Dowager Countess of Antrim

Angela, Dowager Countess of Antrim, widow of the 13th Earl and mother of Viscount Dunluce, who died on 27th September, 1984 was buried in the family burial ground near the family seat, Glenarm Castle, Antrim.

Born in Yorkshire in 1911, the third daughter of Sir Mark Sykes MP and privately educated she studied sculpture and drawing from the age of fifteen in Brussels and Rome. When seventeen she had two large works accepted by the Royal Academy and subsequently exhibited in London, Dublin and Belfast in mixed shows and independently in The Beaux Arts and Hamet galleries in London. She executed for the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority and several churches works in stained glass, bronze and stone. She was the first president of the Association of Ulster Drama Festivals and she and her husband were among the original directors of Ulster Television. She had published in 1977 by Ulster Television, The Antrim McDonnells a profusely illustrated volume containing the basic historical information concerning the Antrim Branch of Clan Donald (South).

Angela Antrim, as she was known professionally, is survived by her sons, The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Dunluce and The Hon. Hector MacDonnell, her daughter and their families.

Miss Margaret H.E. Cuninghame of Balgownie

It was with deep regret that we noted the passing, on 10th August 1985, of Miss Margaret H.E. Cuninghame of Balgownie, a member of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh since 1957. Miss Cuninghame, a well known personality at the Edinburgh Society’s annual gatherings over many years, was a direct descendant of the Chiefs of Glengarry, and bore a striking resemblance to her great-great grandfather, Colonel Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell, 15th of Glengarry, the friend of Sir Walter Scott and subject of a famous painting by Sir Henry Raeburn. Miss Cuninghame inherited, through her grandmother, Helen Rebecca MacDonell, daughter of Aeneas Ranaldson MacDonell, 16th of Glengarry, who married Captain John Cuninghame of Balgownie, the Glengarry heirlooms, the ruined Castle of Invergarry, the Well of the Heads monument (Loch Oich) and the family burial ground at Kilfinnan. The last three properties were, by agreement with Miss Cuninghame and her sister, transferred to a charitable trust set up in December 1960, consisting of a board of trustees, which included the Chief of Glengarry and his brother, Peter MacDonell, the Misses Cuninghame and the President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh (ex officio). The funds of the Invergarry Castle Trust have been administered by the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh from the time the trust was set up. We shall miss the presence of Miss Cuninghame, who had a wonderful sense of humour, besides a keen interest in the activities of the Clan. She is survived by her sister, Miss Josephine Marsaili Cuninghame.

Norman Macdonald

The death occurred on 26th December 1984, of Norman Macdonald, a past President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh for many years known in the Society as Tormod Mor, or Big Norman to distinguish him from the Hon. Secretary, who was known as Tormod Og, or Young Norman. Big Norman joined the Society around 1950 and had been a life member since 1959. He served on the Council for many years and was elected President in 1962, which position he held until 1965 when he was succeeded by his great friend, the late Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton. While employed as the Highlands and Islands Representative for Walls, the ice cream manufacturers, Norman seldom failed to provide the children at the Society’s annual Christmas parties with a surprise treat, usually in the form of a generous supply of delicious ice cream. Well-known for his immense generosity, a characteristic of the true Highlander, Norman was a popular president and a colourful figure in Highland dress. At the Society’s Annual Gathering in 1964, he presented, on behalf of the Society, to the Pipe Major of what was then the 432 City of Edinburgh Royal Engineers (TA), a silk pipe banner, bearing on one side the armorial quartering, as shown in Lyon Register, for MacDonald (MacDonell) of Keppoch, in honour of the regiment’s first Colonel, Ronald MacDonald, who adhered to Keppoch, and on the other, the coat-of-arms of the City and Royal Burgh of Edinburgh. Norman took the salute on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade in 1965 at beating retreat by the pipes and drums of the regiment who also wore and still wear the Keppoch tartan. He attended the unveiling ceremony, with Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton, both as representing the Clan, at the Scottish Memorial to Sir John A. MacDonald, first Prime Minister of Canada on the site of the family residence at Rogart in Sutherland. The ceremony, which was arranged by Hugh MacPherson, was attended by another Canadian prime minister with Scottish roots, the Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, PC, QC. Norman was a founder member of the Clan Donald Lands Trust and served on the original Appeal Committee of that body. Ill health latterly prevented him from taking an active part in Society activities. He is survived by his wife and family.

Robert E. MacDonald, OBE

The death occurred on 18th July 1984, of Mr Robert E. MacDonald, who succeeded the late Reginald MacDonald of Kingsburgh as High Commissioner for Clan Donald in the U.S.A. Mr. MacDonald was President and Chairman of the J.G. White Corporation of New York, which built the Trans-Greece Highway and the general contractor in the building of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. He was made an Officer of the (Most Noble) Order of the British Empire.

Mrs Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton

Mrs Donald J. Macdonald, widow of the late Donald J. Macdonald, 12th of Castleton, died suddenly at her home, “Dundonald”, Ardvasar, Sleat, Isle of Skye, on 26th January, 1987.

“Bunty” as she was known to her family and friends, along with her husband became a sphere of influence in the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh and the Clan at large for the space of thirty years or more. She assisted her husband in all his Clan activities during his terms first as Secretary and latterly as President of the Society. She loved nothing better than to entertain visiting clansfolk, particularly those from overseas and took a keen interest in the activities of the Chiefs and cadets of the Clan and their families. A lady of high intellect and wide knowledge, she was actively engaged in numerous organisations including the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, of which she was a fellow, The 1745 Association and The Clan Donald Lands Trust and for a time acted as Librarian of The Clan Donald Centre Library.

We offer our deep sympathy to her daughters Fay, Stella and Ruth, her son Ranald, 13th of Castleton and their families.

William Merrilees, Esq., OBE

The death took place on 21st August 1984, in an Edinburgh hospital, of Mr William Merrilees, OBE, a former Chief Constable of the Lothian and Peebles Police, at the age of 85. Willie Merrilees, as he was universally known, was born in Leith and always had an ambition to join the police, but his shortness of stature acted to prevent him from ever achieving this aspiration through the normal channels. Willie, however, had, as a young man, among his many talents, that of being a good swimmer and on one occasion when he received a life-saving award his ambition to join the police came to the notice of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who used his influence with the establishment and the result was that the Secretary of State for Scotland waved the minimum height regulations in his case, and Willie became a policeman. He was a master of disguise, and one of the most daring operations in which he took part was when dressed as a railway porter, he brought about the arrest of a German spy at the Waverley Station in 1940. In another operation he was dressed as a baby and wheeled through the Edinburgh streets in a pram and on another occasion he dressed as a woman to apprehend a bag-snatcher. He had been described as “the pocket-sized detective with a battleship reputation”. He became Chief Constable of Lothian and Peebles Police in 1950 when he was 51 – a post which he held until his 70th birthday, being the only Chief Constable in Britain to be asked to stay on after the retirement age of 65. In the autumn of 1966 his autobiography: “The Short Arm of the Law”, was published. Almost as prominent as his police work, and latterly even more so, was the work he did for charity, particularly to help the elderly and children. The holder of an OBE and the King’s Police Medal, he was a Knight of the Order of St. Lazarus and a member of over 50 organisations, including The Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh since 1954 as a life member, his grandmother having been a MacDonald. In 1959 he appeared on the television programme “This Is Your Life”. A widower, Mr Merrilees married Miss Roberta Dayhoff, of Kansas City, Missouri, at South Leith Parish Church in 1968. They had met through a common interest in crippled and orphaned children, more than 400 of whom were among their wedding guests. Many members will recall his presence as a story and joke teller at ceilidhs and other Society functions. He was also a founder member of The Clan Donald Lands Trust. He has a son John, by his first wife, and granchildren.

Miss Ann MacDonald Morrison

The death occurred on 11th December 1984, in her 77th year, of Miss Ann MacDonald Morrison, who was Honorary Secretary of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh during the crucial years 1939 and 1940 when, due to the Second World War, it was no easy task to keep a clan society alive; but this she and other members of the Council succeeded in doing. She and other ladies of the Society were deeply involved in the work of sending food parcels to clansfolk serving in the Armed Forces, one, at least, of whom subsequently served as President of the Society. Ann had been a life member of the Society since 1930 and had served also as a Vice-President and Council Member almost continually from 1937 till 1960 after which the duties of her occupation required her to live in Glasgow.

Mrs Elizabeth B. MacDonald

The death took place on 16th April, 1984, in her 83rd year of Mrs Elizabeth B. MacDonald, a former Vice-President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh. Mrs MacDonald joined the Society with her husband, the late Alexander C. MacDonald, and son in 1955 and became a life member in 1975. During her years of membership she served diligently as a member of the Council and as a Vice-President. Mrs MacDonald played an active part in the Society’s activities until when, on leaving a Council meeting, she was involved in an accident, resulting in a broken hip, which severely restricted her for the rest of her life. Nevertheless, with fortitude and the aid of a zimmer, she continued to attend the annual gatherings until 1979, thereafter being confined to her home. She was the mother of Norman H. MacDonald, Hon. Secretary of the Society, and ably assisted her son whenever possible in his secretarial duties. She also gave him every encouragement in historical research and in his literary endeavours. In the early days of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, Mrs MacDonald was an enthusiastic fund-raiser, tireless in her efforts, as indeed she was in all the Society’s ventures. Although suffering acute discomfort in her latter years, her keen interest in the Society, its members and its activities never dimmed.

William J. McDonald, Esq.

The death occurred on 25th May 1984, in his 77th year, of William J. (Bill) McDonald, President of the Victoria Metropolitan Branch of the Clan Donald Society of Australia, at his home, 5 Russell Street, McCrae, Victoria. He made two visits to Scotland; on the second of which he was accompanied by his wife, Irene, who gave him full support in his Clan Donald activities. He and his wife became Life Members of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh. Bill was a tireless worker for the Clan in his area and beyond in many roles which included being organising secretary for the State of Victoria, founder member Peninsula, President of Metropolitan and Patron of Dandenwong branches. He was a good conversationalist on Scottish history and traditions and assisted those interested in tracing family history. His knowledge of early settlement throughout Victoria by Scottish migrants and families earned him respect. Through his work as a skilled tradesman, he has left behind lasting examples of fine craftsmanship, including additions and restorations to churches at Dromana, Rye, and Sorrento. His recent activities included the newly formed Pipes and Drums of Clan Donald. His funeral at Dromana Cemetery was attended by a large gathering while a lone piper played a fitting lament which drifted down the slopes of Arthur’s Seat. He is survived by his wife, Irene and his sons John and Alan.

David MacDonald Stewart

The death occurred in Montreal on 27th April 1984 of Colonel David MacDonald Stewart, one of the early subscribers to and an original trustee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust. His untimely death at the comparatively early age of 63 was a great blow to Clan Donald and to the Scottish cultural bodies both in Canada and Scotland with which he was associated. He held the rank of Honorary Colonel in the 78th Fraser Highlanders (which he resuscitated) and the Queen’s York Rangers, was an officer of the Order of Canada and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for the promotion of Canadian and French culture. He was President of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal and sponsored the production of the film “The Massacre of Glencoe”.