............................................ Some examples of McDonald Tartans ............................................

c.1805 Edinburgh, Scotland - ? - NSW, Australia

Finally, after years of searching and trying to distinguish between the many people with this name in NSW, our Donald McDonald has been identified........!

Y E S ! Y E S ! Y E S !


Previously we had presumed he was born c. 1805/1810 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Parents names not known.
We now know that he was born 3 July 1811, Cannongate, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland to John McDonald and Elizabeth nee Simpson. He was working as an Indoor servant (and groom) and was charged with robbing his master on July 16th 1829. An excerpt taken from trial records shows that the offence occurred in St Andrews Square, Edinburgh.

After reading the original Trial records we learn that he had been given a sealed envelope by his master the Right Honourable John Francis Miller Erskine, Earl of Mar who resided at Bonnington Bank, in the Parish of St Cuthbert's and Shire of Edinburgh. (As Donald was an indoor servant, then possibly he also lived there). He was to deliver the envelope to the National Bank in St Andrews Square and return to his master with the reply.

He had been given and carred out this task before, but in this case he decided that the envelope he was to return to the Earl could contain money, and he opened it.

With dire consequences for our Donald!

After reading his dictated (and signed) Declaration, it can be seen that having not delivered the envelope and money, his best plan was to abscond.

He made his way to Glasgow and Rothesay and after making a number of purchases he was eventually apprehended by Peter McDonald, Constable.

His arrest was followed by the trial that saw him leaving Scotland for Australia as a convict.

An Engraving of the East Side of St Andrew Square - c. 1829
The area where Donald was sent to deliver the envelope to the National Bank.
Photo Courtesy of Peter Stubbs, Photographer

Following his trial in Edinburgh he was sentenced to 7 years and transported to Australia. His convict record shows he had a former conviction of 60 days, that at that time he was 19 yrs old, could read and write, he was single, 5ft 6ins. tall with a sallow and freckled complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes.

Extract from ‘MEDICAL AND SURGICAL JOURNAL’ of His Majesty's Hired Convict Ship FLORENTIA between the 16th day of July and the 27th day of December 1830 during which time the said FLORENTIA has been employed in transporting 200 male convicts from Sheerness to Sydney with Guards (30 Men) 5 women and four children. Andrew Henderson, M.D., Ship's Surgeon.

(It's possible the ship originally departed Ireland but these are places where medical treatment was noted:)

  • July 26th - Deptfords (south bank of Thames River in the docklands)
  • August 2nd - Little Nore (sandbank in the Thames Estuary used as an anchorage)
  • August 12th - at Sheerness
  • August 16th - looks like Deisns (possibly “Downs”, an anchorage off the town of Deal on the coast south of the Thames Estuary.)
  • unreadable date - working down the channel
  • August 18th - at sea
    NOTE: These details courtesy of Janet - a fellow "FLORENTIA" researcher
  • He arrived in N.S.W. on 14th December 1830, aboard the “Florentia” which left Portsmouth on 15th August 1830.

    Daniel was assigned to Major Innes of Port Macquarie, where it appears he served his sentence, then applied to return to Sydney.

    Following details on the background of Major Innes from various websites shed a little light on the way of life in the Port Macquarie area at that time: (to go straight to more on Donald McDonald scroll further down page.)

    [1] Archibald Clunes INNES
    Born in 1800 at Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland, Archibald Clunes Innes obtained a commission as an ensign in the 3rd Regiment, The Buffs. He obtained his Captain's commission in 1821 and on 20 July 1822, with 160 convicts and guard, Captain Innes sailed from Sheerness for Australia on board the Eliza, and arrived in Sydney on 22 November, after a 140 day voyage.

    In November 1826 Innes was appointed Commandant at Port Macquarie. Recalled to Sydney to become Brigade Major, he later resigned his commission and became Police Magistrate at Parramatta.

    Innes married Margaret Macleay (1802-1858), a daughter of the then Colonial Secretary, Alexander Macleay, in 1829, and in 1830 returned to Port Macquarie as Police Magistrate and took up 2560 acres at Lake Burrawan, later renamed Lake Innes, and obtained numerous government contracts to supply provisions to the penal settlement. His wife also had 1280 acres as a “marriage portion” on the Wilson River at Crottys Plains. With the cheap convict labour provided by the government, they built Lake Innes Cottage, a residence with 22 ‘apartments’. They were renowned throughout New South Wales for their hospitality.

    Besides the mansion Innes built at Lake Innes, he owned hotels, wool stores and many cattle and sheep properties throughout the region. A man of wide interests, he was the most influential of the early settlers in the district.

    In 1842 Innes' sister Barbara married George Macleay, a son of Alexander Macleay. Innes' niece, Annabella (the daughter of his brother George who died in 1839), lived at Lake Innes from April to November 1839 and again from January 1843 to [May?] 1848, and wrote a series of diaries-now held by the Port Macquarie Historical Society-which record many facets of her early life in the region. They have been published under the title Annabella Boswell's Journal.

    Innes survived the economic depression of the early 1840s, but with the cessation of transportation, meaning no more cheap labour, he finally became bankrupt in 1852. Innes was appointed assistant gold commissioner at Hanging Rock on the Peel River, in succession to Edward Hargraves. William Telfer's manuscript [1] records an experience Inne's had during this period: “Even the Commissioner Major Innes was bailed up by two armed men as he was returning from Tamworth. One man presented a gun at him, told him to bail up, when he spoke the other man recognised him and said to his mate that it is the Major, don't shoot. He said by G[od] it is the Major. They begged his pardon. He made them throw away their gun and come with him to the police camp. He promised them he would not prosecute them on condition they would lead an honest life, giving each man a licence to work on the goldfield where they done well, and always behaved themselves afterwards. The commissioner kept this very quiet but one of the men told his mates about the kind-hearted old Major. He was a grand old gentleman not many like him at the time.”

    As Telfer's story of his being bailed up indicates, Innes had acquired a reputation for exceptional leniency, much to the dissatisfaction of his superiors. It was probably most fortunate for Henry Cohen and his family that he was able to serve his time assigned to Innes at Port Macquarie. (and also for our Donald McDonald!)

    NOTE: from many accounts life as a convict was generally rather horrible, with cruel people taking advantage of the enormous power they had over the lives of people in their control.

    In 1853 Innes and his wife moved to Newcastle where he became Police Magistrate. He died there on 29 August 1857. Margaret died there in 1858.
    [Biography in ADB, vol. 2, 1788-1850, pp.3-4.]

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    [2] The command of Captain Wright at Port Macquarie was brought to a close in 1826 by the need to forestall a feared French invasion of southern Australia. Captain Archibald Clunes Innes, who had served with Wright in Tasmania and travelled with him to Sydney, took over at Port Macquarie in November 1826 and served as Commander until April 1827.

    His father-in-law was the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay and Innes renamed the major river which had been known as Wright's River in favour of McLeay. Innes returned to the area to live in 1830 and settled on 2,560 acres at Lake Burrawan - he renamed it Lake Innes - six miles from town, on which he built ‘a stately mansion“.

    The house was named “Lake Cottage”. Extensions were made to it and today the ruins remaining are known as the ‘Innes House Ruins’. Archibald Innes did not stay in the area but for the period he was here his influence was significant.

    [3] Lake Innes: Privilege and servitude in the archaeological record.
    The archaeology of European settlement in Australia has the potential to contribute to archaeology as well as to history, reinforcing its international as well as its national relevance.

    One important aspect of such potential is the use of data drawn from Australian historical archaeology to test the extent to which socio-economic status can be detected in physical evidence.

    The extensive Lake Innes Estate, near Port Macquarie, New South Wales, has recently been the subject of three seasons of excavation, following five years of initial survey.

    The Estate flourished in the 1830s, declined during the 1840s, and gradually faded from view during the rest of the nineteenth century. In its heyday its viability was based on the unfree labour of assigned servants, that is to say transported convicts, but paid free workers were also employed.

    Thus there was a complex social hierarchy, at the top of which were the residents of Lake Innes House: family members and friends of Major Archibald Clunes Innes, a retired British army officer who created a colonial version of the landed estate that fate had denied him in his native Scotland.

    According to the ‘Convict Permissions to Marry’ register Donald made application to marry fellow convict Harriet Harbour, this was granted on 20th January 1842. They were married by Rev. James Fullerton in St. Lawrence Presbyterian Church, Pitt St. Sydney on 24th January 1842. Harriet Harbour was from Herefordshire, England. Her parents were Thomas Harbor and Hannah nee Clifton who were married 8 November, 1819 in Hartlebury, Worcester, England. (This detail is from an entry on the IGI)

    No birth/baptism record for Harriet or any other children has yet been located.

    HOWEVER there is an entry on the IGI for Mary Ann Harber, born 25 October 1824 (no place of birth mentioned), christened 28 October Old Church, St Pancras, London - parents Thomas Harber and Hannah.

    There is also an entry on the 1851 census for Thomas Harber, occupation plasterer, born St Pancras, Middlesex - age 20 - he is in gaol.....!

    Could these be two of Harriet's siblings...?

    On the same night (1851) there is an entry for Thomas Harber, aged 50, occupation plasterer, born Warwick. he is visiting a family in St Pancras and this is in the vicinity of the gaol. Maybe he had been visiting his son......????

    We also have census details for 1851 and 1861 for Hannah Harber, both in St Pancras though at 2 different addresses for the 2 census'. In 1851 she was working as a cook, shown to be married, aged 57 and born Bromyard, Hereford. By 1861 she was a widow, aged 70 (?) and once again working as a cook and domestic servant, born Bromyard,Hereford. There is an entry on the IGI for Hannah Clifton christened 2 October 1795 in Bromyard, Hereford - parents Edward Clifton and Elizabeth.
    It all sounds feasible to me........!

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    So although we haven't found Harriet's actual birth date or place, we do know that she was another convict ancestor! Her crime was that of arson, and she was sentenced at the Worcester Assizes to 15 yrs. and transportation. Once again details from her convict record - she arrived on the "Surrey" on 14th July 1840. She was 21 yrs old, illiterate, single, height 5 ft. Fair and ruddy complexion, red hair, brown eyes, she had a scar near her right elbow.

    NOTE: the observation is made on the Convict website www.femalefactory.com.au that people sometimes performed acts of arson so that they would be sent to the colonies.....!

    From details on the Birth Certificate for their daughter Caroline Martha born 1857, Donald and Harriet had at least 8 children.

    Harriet McDONALD
    b. c1843
    Daniel Thomas McDONALD
    b. 13 February 1847
    Helen HARBER
    b.? d. 1849
    Possible daughter
    Elizabeth McDONALD
    b. c1850
    Eliza McDONALD
    b. c1851
    Hannah (AKA Ann) McDONALD
    b. c1853
    William McDONALD
    b. 5 Nov 1856 Seaham
    nr. Newcastle (identity not proven but overwhelming evidence that he was the son of Donald McDonald and Elizabeth Ann Clifton)
    Caroline McDONALD
    b. 15th June 1857
    John McDONALD
    b. c1860
    George McDONALD
    b. 15 January 1862

    A recent unexpected find was a transcription for the birth of George McDonald, who was a further child born to Donald and Harriet, on 15 January 1862. At this time Donald was 57 while Harriet was 41.

    The latest exciting acquisition is the Death certificate for John McDonald, aged 21, who died in 1881. His year of birth would have been approximately 1860.

    Birth/baptism certificates are held for Caroline and George, there is an index on the NSW BD&M for Daniel T. (plus a church record has been viewed by another researcher) which is believed to be correct but has at this stage not been acquired. To date no birth details are known for Harriet, Elizabeth, Eliza, Hannah, William - (see below), John or the daughter who had died.

    (There is an index entry on the NSW BD&M for Helen Harber, infant, died 1849 - no parents shown - maybe this is her..?)

    Including the 1 girl deceased, the above information now makes the total number of children in the family of Donald and Harriet McDonald ten in all. That we know of....!

    There is a church record for a Marriage of Harriet McDonald to John Woodbridge 16 December 1861, Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth street, Sydney. There are a number of entries on the NSW BD&M indexes for children born and died with these parents but apart from that, at this stage nothing further is known of their lives. There is a death index on NSW BD&M for Harriet Woodbridge age 55 years, died Woolloomooloo in 1875 which probably relates to John's mother - her name also was Harriet.

    HOWEVER in regard to the children Hannah and William it is very likely that Hannah is the same person who married James House, whose parents were said to be Donald McDonald, occupation painter, and mother Harriet Gibson. The name of Gibson is either a mistake or Donald fathered Hannah with someone other than his wife......!

    (NOTE: Hannah's Marriage Certificate already contains one known error relating to the name of the mother of her husband James House.
    The Certificate states that her name was Amelia Payne, where in actual fact James' mother was Emma Payne.
    This mistake on the certificate was brought about by the fact that following the death of Emma in England, William House married his first wife's sister Amelia and together they emigrated to Australia and had further children.
    James was raised by his stepmother Amelia.
    So it's within the realms of possibility that the entry for Hannah's mother as Harriet Gibson could also be incorrect.....!)

    As for the birth of William, a similar ‘grey area’ exists.....

    No record for William with parents Donald McDonald and mother Harriet have been found, but the child born to Donald McDonald and Elizabeth Clifton in Seaham, NSW could very well be the William mentioned on Caroline's birth transcription as being aged 2 in 1857.

    If in fact this Donald McDonald was the father of the William born in Seaham, then it appears likely that the child was reared by Harriet as her own son.

    We know for a fact that Elizabeth Clifton and the Donald McDonald in Seaham did not marry, in fact she married an older man - James Edgely - just 8 months after the birth of her son.

    A Clifton researcher has stated that the baby William was brought up as a ‘McDonald’ not an Edgely.....

    In the absence of any proof otherwise (or until some is unearthed!) I am ready to believe that -

    Hannah b. approx. 1853 could be the daughter of Donald & his wife Harriet nee Harbour.

    William born 5 November 1856 to Donald McDonald and Elizabeth Clifton, could be the same William who was brought up by Donald & Harriet in Sydney.

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    But back to Donald.....

    Who knows what ensued in the years following the marriage in 1842 between Donald and Harriet? Where did they live..? What did they do...? A number of entries from various sources have come to light showing particular locations in inner Sydney for this family:

    * 1847 - Camperdown - Daniel Thomas born - Church record of birth
    * 1856 - Seaham, Maitland area near Newcastle, Baptism.
                  OR - Newtown - this could relate to area nr. Seaham known as Newtown in 1800's
    * 1857 - Newtown - Caroline born - Birth reg. Transcription
    * 1862 - Parramatta Street, Sydney - George born - Birth reg. Transcription
    * 1863 - Rosehill Street, Redfern - Donald McDonald, painter - Sands Directories
    * 1864 - Darlington Gaol - 26 January - Riotous conduct - 48 hrs. - NSW Gaol Entrance Books
    * 1865 - Botany Road, Chippendale - Daniel McDonald - painter - Sands Directories
    * 1865 - Botany Road, Redfern - Donald McDonald - painter, glazier paperhanger
                  Plays the Fiddle to Wedding & Quadrille Parties. Violins repaired & bows haired
                  Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday May 4, 1865 - Trove NLA
    * 1867 - William (son) gaoled for larceny - NSW Gaol Entrance Books
    * 1870/71 - Camden Street, Newtown - Donald McDonald - Electoral Rolls
    * 1873 - Shepherd Street, Darlington - Donald McDonald, painter - Sands Directories
    * 1874 - Shepherd Street, Sydney - Harriet McDonald - Death certificate
    * 1877 - William is shown in the Sands Directories as being at Shepherd Street
    * 1881 - Johnstone Lane, Redfern - John McDonald - Death certificate
    * 1885 - Tighes Hill, Newcastle - Daniel/Donald McDonald - Death Certificate
                  (died at home of daughter Hannah House, nee McDonald)
    * 1894 - Alexander Street, Macdonaldtown - William McDonald - Death certificate

    Click on map for larger image
    Parramatta Road (left Page)
    Lackey, Wattle, Shepherd & Rosehill Streets & Botany Road (right hand page).

    Click on map to go to larger image (may take a little longer to load)

    Harriet's father Thomas Harber was a plasterer - is it a coincidence that her husband Donald also followed this profession..? It seems unlikely that Donald had ever met his father-in-law Thomas Harber. No record of Harriet's parents coming to Australia has been found. See UK census details above re 1851 and 1861 for Thomas and Hannah.

    In regard to the Seaham, Maitland area connection - it could be suggested that work as a plasterer/painter could possibly have taken Donald out of town and during this time he encountered Elizabeth Clifton who was just a girl, not yet 17! It should be remembered that he also served his time as a convict in Port Macquarie, which is not too far from Maitland.

    It's very possible that he was employed to work on the building of Major Innes' house, (see previous details regarding Major Innes above) and could be where he learned the trade he was to practise in later years.

    Another connection with this particular area is the marriage of Donald's daughter Hannah to James House in 1872 in Maitland..! (Nothing has yet been added on this line - keep checking back for updates.)

    NOTE: AT LAST...!
    May 2006 - having finally obtained the Death certificate for Daniel/Donald (d. 1 August 1885) we can see that he has returned to his daughter's home in the Newcastle area.

    What a long, hard struggle it was to locate that information ......

    Click here to go to a descendant List for Donald McDonald.

    Click here to go to the page for William Edward McDonald.


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