Some Australian 19th Century Records by A. G. Macdonald, MacKay, Queensland.

Glencoe Folk. Several contacts have been made with descendants of the Glencoe Macdonalds. Among them is Miss Ruth McDonald, treasurer of the New South Wales Branch of the Society. This family has a tradition of descent from the Glencoe chiefs, and from an officer in the Army in Australia in the early years of our history. Unfortunately, this link has not yet been clearly established. By coincidence, an officer in the Army, Captain Ronald Macdonald, who died in 1841, is described in official records as the Chief of the Glencoe Macdonalds. He was a brother of Dr. Ewen Macdonald, who was the chief until his death in 1840. Captain Ronald left a son and a daughter in Australia, but we have not yet succeeded in tracing their descendants.

Skye Descendants. By far the greatest number of our members are descendants of Skye Macdonalds. Notable among them is the family of our New South Wales Branch President, Dr. Roderick Hector Macdonald of Rigg, OBE Although this family did not come directly from Skye to Australia, they are descendants of the Macdonalds of Sleat (Skye). Dr. Macdonald’s father, Dr. Roderick Macdonald, was born at Nunton, Benbecula, in Clanranald country. After graduating at age 21, he enlisted as troopship surgeon, going to Alexandria during the Egyptian War. He then practised for a year in Inverness before coming to Australia where he practised at Maclean, and in the Tweed district of New South Wales. From there he went to Western Australia, but soon after he returned to Ipswich in Queensland. He was on active service with the Australian Army Medical Corps in Egypt and Gallipoli. When demobilised he held the rank of Colonel and had been mentioned in despatches. On retirement from his profession he took up pastoral life in South Western Queensland, where he took a keen interest in raising purebred stock. In 1940, at the age of 79, Dr. Macdonald again answered the call and became a medical officer with the second Australian Imperial Force at Redbank Camp, Queensland. His death occurred a month later.

Keppochs. Although I know of many Keppoch families in Canada, there does not appear to be many in Australia. However, one of our keen members, Mrs. Christine Brown, of Tumut, New South Wales, is descended from Captain Ranald Macdonald, son of Alexander of Garvabeg (Keppoch) and his third wife Margaret Macdonald of the Greenfield family. Their daughter Reginalda married Neil Rankin who emigrated from Glencoe to Australia in 1848 and later settled in the Tumut area. The Rankins were Mrs. Brown’s grandparents.

Another Keppoch Macdonald was Mr. Alexander Rose Macdonald, who, with his brother James, established one of the early sugar plantations and mills in North Queensland. Mr. Macdonald was a son of Rev. Dr. Donald Macdonald of Inverness. He named his plantation “Inverness.” His son Mr Alistair Rose Macdonald, was the guest of honour at a function of the Queensland Society held during the centenary celebrations in Mackay.

Ulster Macdonnells. A Queenslander, Mr. C.R.H. MacDonnell, of Brisbane, a retired classics master, appears to be the present representative of the Macdonnells of Tynekill. Mr. Macdonnell is a descendant of Captain Robert Harkness Macdonnell, who arrived in Australia in the 1850’s. He stayed first with his cousin Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, who was then Governor of South Australia, and later moved to Melbourne, where for some years he was Registrar of Insolvency. He retired to Queensland where several of his descendants are now living. Among them is Mr. Reginald R.M. King QC, who compiled a comprehensive genealogy of the family.

Clanranalds. Many Clanranalds emigrated from Moidart and other Clanranald areas to Victoria in the 1850’s. Several of their descendants are now members of our Society. A much earlier arrival was Captain George Macdonald of the Knockeltaig (Morar) family, who arrived in Sydney on the “Bengal Merchant” in 1835. When his regiment was recalled from Sydney, Captain Macdonald sold his commission and bought a property near the town of Yass. He later purchased a much larger property named “Adjungbilly.” Here he was visited by Dr. John Dunmore Lang who described him as living “with his large family, like one of the ancient patriarchs in the midst of his flocks and herds, on the Tumut Mountains. … Captain Macdonald and his family were quite reconciled to their situation, living in peace and plenty, and rural simplicity.” In a tiny bush cemetery at Adjungbilly stands a crumbling stone with this inscription: “Sacred to the memory of Captain George Macdonald, late of H.M.17th Regiment, died 25th October 1853 aged 74 years.” A photograph taken from a portrait of this handsome captain may be seen in Rory Mackay’s booklet. “Clanranald’s Tacksmen of the late 18th Century.” reprinted from the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Volume XLIV.

Glengarry. Although there must be a good number of Glengarry clansmen living in Australia, they are rare as far as our records are concerned. We do have some information on one interesting family. Mary, sister of Captain George Macdonald of Knockeltaig, married Angus Macdonell of Greenfield. Their sons George and Colin and a daughter Rebecca were brought out to Australia by Captain Macdonald. Colin MacDonell married and his descendants still live in the area where he settled. Mrs. V.M. MacDonell, widow of Sidney Stewart MacDonell, and her family are members of our Society.