The Caledonian Mercury of 29 August 1840, in reporting on the departure of the Blenheim, noted, “The ship is commanded by Captain Gray, and the emigrants amount to betwixt 150 and 200. They are all from Lochaber, Morvern and Skye, with a few Lowlanders. The families consist of the parents, and from six to ten children each, and they are all under the kindly and fatherly care of Mr M’Donald of Drimintoran, a genuine and highly respectable Highlander, who, to prove his confidence in the benefits to be derived from emigration, and the trust that might be put in his sincerity, goes out along with his family and friends to the land of hope, which we understand, is Wellington, Port Nicholson.”
Because they were cabin passengers the family was not on the passenger lists of those receiving free passage. From newspaper reports the family included:
- Donald MacDonald, Esq., 51
- Mrs MacDonald,
- Catherine MacDonald, 17
- Donald MacDonald, 16
- Adam MacDonald, 15
- Flora MacDonald, 13
- Alexander MacDonald, 12
- Campbell MacDonald, 10
- Thomas MacDonald, 5
- Duncan MacDonald, 18 mths
Spelling: The variations used in documents and other sources include “MacDonald”, “Macdonald”, “M’Donald”, and McDonald”. In this post “McDonald” has been used unless the source indicated otherwise.
Return to The Blenheim People.
Donald McDonald and Anne Cummings
Donald McDonald was described in the New Zealand Journal of Saturday August 29 1840 as “a large landholder in the colony, and nearly the whole body of emigrants by the Blenheim was composed of his own and the neighbouring clans, near Fort William, in Inverness-shire.”
Alexander McDonald wrote a memoir which included some of the history of his family. He noted that he had documentary evidence sufficiently conclusive to himself, that he belonged to the Glencoe branch of the MacDonald Clan.
Alexander’s grandfather’s name was Donald MacDonald, and while he was too young to join the clan in the rising of 1745, he ran after and overtook the Glencoe men and marched with them to Culloden. After Cullodon, this Donald McDonald escaped with others to France, but returned to Scotland while he was still a young man and took to farming. His son Donald (Alexander’s father) followed in the same pursuit, and was presented with a silver cup in 1829 by the Highland Agricultural Society in testimony of the best managed farm in the West Highlands (this cup, and another awarded to the senior Donald MacDonald, have been recovered by descendants of Alexander MacDonald and are their treasured possessions). Donald MacDonald was in the Commission of the Peace, and Deputy Lieutenant of Argyleshire for 22 years. The cup was not the only recognition received by Donald McDonald. The Caledonian Mercury of 31 January 1828, in its publication of premiums adjudged by the Highland Society of Scotland, reported that Mr Donald MacDonald, Tenant in Drimintoran, Sunart, received five Sovereigns for the best two Quays [heifers] of two years old in the District of Morvern, Ardnamurchan etc, and in 1833 the Caledonian Mercury of 31 January reported that he received eight sovereigns for the best bull exhibited at the Competition held in Strontian in August 1832.
Donald McDonald was born around 1781.
Donald McDonald had an early marriage to Jane Kennedy, who died a few years after the marriage. It seems unlikely that there were any children. The Caledonian Mercury of 19 February 1814 carried the Marriage Notice: “At Keppoch, on the 3rd current, Donald McDonald, Esq., of Drimintoran, to Miss Jane Kennedy, only daughter of the late Rev. Mr John Kennedy, of Auchterer.”
A few years later, Donald McDonald married Anne Cummings. The Old Parish Register for Coldstream in the county of Berwick recorded that Donald McDonald of the parish of Ardnamurchan, and Ann Cummings of this parish, were registered for proclamation on the 23rd September and married the 9th October 1820.
The New Zealand Company employed Donald MacDonald to arrange with a number of Scottish families to emigrate to New Zealand, and a large number from the West Highlands agreed to make the trip. There were some late withdrawals and the ship could take more, so several families of Paisley weavers were also enlisted for the voyage.
Jessie Campbell’s Journal includes many references to the McDonald family, given that they lived cheek by jowl for several months on the voyage to New Zealand. Not all of the remarks were charitable.
In talking of the McDonald’s plans, Jessie wrote, “Capt. Gray told Capt. C today that he knew all Mr Macdonald’s history, that he had failed for £10,000 and of his intemperate habits. Mr Macdonald told Capt. C that he has hopes of getting a situation from the company as he had letters from some of the Directors to Col. Wakefield; he says it will be useless for him to go to his land as he has no subject to stock it or improve it. (Of course we are very doubtful however time will soon shew). His wife and daughter are to keep school he says in Port Nicholson. Catherine is fit to teach none but mere beginners, what her mother means to teach I cannot fancy. ”
Before leaving Scotland Donald McDonald, and others, had bought land at Wanganui from the New Zealand Company, but remained in Wellington at Kaiwarra where he had charge of the road-making from Wellington to Petone, Porirua and Karori. The New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator of 3 March 1841 noted, “We walked out on the Porirua road a few days since, and were much gratified with the rapid progress which had been made. About three miles of the road are now as good as need be for the present. Mr. M’Donald has shown great judgment in the management of this important undertaking, and the colonists may consider themselves fortunate in having among them a gentleman so evidently well qualified to perform the task he has in hand.”
Jessie Campbell’s letters home included much gossip about the McDonalds, including Donald McDonald’s reversion to intemperence and the effect it had on his health. In a letter of 4 December 1842, she wrote, “I wrote to my mother about Drimantoran having lost his situation, alas miserable man, the accounts we had a few days ago are still more wretched, he is a ruined man. Everything he has was seized for debt. His son Adam, saved him from being sent to jail by giving up the little pittance he had saved. God help his poor wife, I feel deeply for her, with all her faults she is well principled. He, poor wretch, is lying dangerously ill, scarcely expected to recover, I think his death would be a happy release to his family, he has brought such disgrace upon them. Adam is very steady and a sensible lad. Donald’s death was blessing, he was as drunken as his father without his abilities when sober. Catherine’s intended has not returned from Auckland, all this blow up has occurred during his absence. I wonder what he will feel about it when he hears of McDonald’s disgrace. The Capt. and John Cameron were thankful to be at such a distance from him, they would not like to have intercourse with a man spoken of as he is.”
As outlined by Alexander McDonald in his memoir, his father, once a first-class farmer and magistrate, fell “victim to the intemperate use of intoxicants,” which broke him down but not irretrievably before leaving Scotland, but after a year or two in New Zealand he gave way to the habit.
Donald McDonald died on 26 July 1849. The Wellington Independent of 28 July 1849 carried the Death Notice: “At Glengower near Wellington, on Thursday Evening the 26th inst., Donald M’Donald, Esq., late of Drimintoran, Argyleshire, and Deputy Lieutenant of the same County, Aged 68 years.”
Anne (Cummings) McDonald died on 7 April 1870 at Christchurch under the name of Agnes McDonald. The death registration noted that she was 70 years old and died of “general vital failure consequent on old age”, with the informant being Llewellyn Powell MD, Christchurch, but with no other information. It is likely that she was living with her daughter Catherine at the time. The Press of 8 April 1870 carried the Death Notice: “McDonald—At Christchurch, on the 7th April, Agnes, widow of the late Donald McDonald, Esq. Drinintoran, Argyleshire, and of Wellington, N Z, aged 74.”
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records the baptism on 27 October 1823 of Catherine, daughter to Donald MacDonald, tacksman of Drimintoran, and Anne Cummings.
Catherine was 16 when she boarded the Blenheim in August 1840. She appears to have given lessons to the younger children, occasioning Jessie Campbell to remark that she had a very good method with young children.
In a letter of 27 June 1843 Jessie Campbell wrote, “…but my servant, who was with them for some time, says Catherine was quite the fine lady, did nothing to assist her mother. Her intended has not yet returned from Auckland, she hears from him regularly. From a reduction of the surveying staff he lost his situation, he has been wanting the acting Governor to fulfil his promise of giving him another place, by the last accounts he was on the eve of being appointed Protector of the Aborigines either here or at Kafia, a place further down the coast. I do not know what his salary will be, probably 200 pounds a year. Catherine has been very fortunate. Mr. Campbell has been highly spoken of by all. Mr. Spain told me he was a most honourable well principled young man.”
The New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator for 14 October 1843 carried the following Marriage Notice: “At ‘Kai Wara Wara, on the 10th October, by the Rev. J. Macfarlane, first minister of the Scotch Church, N.Z., John Campbell, Esq., formerly of Edinburgh, now Protector of Aborigines at Taranaki, to Catherine, daughter of D. M’Donald, Esq., formerly of Druim-an-Soran, Argyleshire, N.B.”
However, the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator of 15 November 1843 reported:
Died. At Wellington, on the 2nd instant, John Campbell, Esq., formerly of Edinburgh, aged 29. Mr. Campbell was originally bred to the profession of the Law, but having emigrated to New Zealand, he was employed as a Surveyor by the Local Government, for which his scientific acquirements particularly fitted him. Subsequently he was appointed Protector of the Aborigines at Taranaki, and it is much to be regretted that the liberal and enlightened views which he entertained as to the relative position of the European’s and Natives, and his anxious wish to promote the interest of both, have been frustrated by his premature death. He was much respected by all who knew him his funeral was attended by most of the officials connected with the Government and the New Zealand Company, and upwards of a hundred Natives.
Catherine (McDonald) Campbell remarried, to Robert Waitt on 5 June 1844.
Jessie Campbell wrote on 9 September 1845, “Catherine seems quite wrapped up in her baby and Grandmama not less so.” and in another letter, “The last time I heard from Mrs. Macdonald, Mrs. [Waitt] was so ill with rheumatism she was preparing to go to Sydney in hopes of the warm climate benefiting her, her baby is a very fine child, Catherine is so thin and haggard John C, says I would hardly know her.”
The family moved to Christchurch in 1854 where Robert Waitt carried on business as a merchant in Lyttelton and leased a sheep station at Double Corner at Motunau. By 1857 he had purchased the Casterton Estate in the Heathcote Valley.
Robert Waitt died on 14 September 1866. The Lyttelton Times carried the Death Notice: “Waitt – Sept. 14, at Opawa, Robert Waitt, aged 50 years.”
Catherine (McDonald) Waitt died on 23 December 1877. The Press carried the Death Notice: “Waitt – On the 23rd December, Catherine, widow of the late Robert Waitt, Esq., aged fifty-four years.”
Catherine and Robert had at least five children:
- Mary Douglas Waitt, born in 1845, died in 1865, married Llewelyn Price Traherne in 1863.
- Robert McDonald Waitt, born in 1847, died in 1879, married Janie Emerald White in 1876.
- Agnes Isabella Waitt, born in 1850, died in 1882, married Andrew Jameson in 1869.
- Flora Margaret Waitt, born in 1851, died in 1885, married Thomas Dyke Acland in 1874.
- George Caverhill Waitt, born in 1855, died in 1867.
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records that Donald, son of Donald MacDonald, tacksman of Drimintoran, and Anne Cummings, was born the 26th September was baptized the 1st October 1824.
Donald McDonald was 16 when he travelled to New Zealand in 1840.
It appears from Jessie Campbell’s letters that Donald McDonald died before December 1842, but details have not been found.
Adam Cummings McDonald
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records that Alexander, son of Donald MacDonald, tacksman of Drimintoran, and Anne Cummings, was born 27th March, baptized the 5th April 1829.
Adam Cummings McDonald and Margaret Wallace were married in Wellington on 10 June 1852.
Adam Cummings McDonald died in Wellington on 20 September 1858 at the age of 35.
In his memoirs, Alexander McDonald wrote that after his father’s death:
His place was nobly filled by my elder brother, Adam Cummings McDonald, who at the time of my father’s death was a valued clerk in the Union Bank of Australia. It pleased God however, that he should also be taken from us. He died very suddenly in 1858, leaving a widow and two sons, and two daughters. He was then Manager of the Wellington Branch of the Union Bank of Australia. On his sudden death the directors of the Bank wrote a letter of sympathy to his widow, enclosing also a whole year’s salary £400 of their late Manager in testimony of their appreciation of his worth. The Directors also expressed a wish that the two boys of their late Manager would be kept at school, with a view to commercial life, and that a place would always be open to them in their Bank when of suitable age. In due time the eldest boy Adam was taken into the Bank, and the youngest, George, went into the office of Messrs. Turnbull.
Let me say here to you young people that there never was in this world two young men who gave greater promise of a beautiful, useful, Christian life. And yet it pleased God to take both these fine young men before they reached the prime of life. They both died of typhoid fever within a fortnight of each other. It had been found impossible to prevent the younger from nursing the elder brother, who was first taken ill, and the former caught the infection and they were both taken. The youngest sister Amelia, without exception the most delightful child I ever saw in my life, also caught the infection and died within a few weeks of her brothers.
[The reference to the date of Amelia’s death is not consistent with BDM information.]
Adam and Margaret McDonald had four children:
- Adam Campbell McDonald, born in 1853, died in 1879.
- George Robertson McDonald, born in 1854, died in 1879.
- Agnes Jane McDonald, born in 1856, died in 1924.
- Amelia Jessie McDonald, born in 1858, died in 1875
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records that Flory, daughter of Donald McDonald, tacksman of Drimintoran, and Anne Cummings, was born the 6th and baptized the 17th day of March 1828.
Flora McDonald was 13 when she emigrated to New Zealand on the Blenheim.
Flora McDonald married Thomas Kebbell on 8 November 1848. The couple moved to the Manawatu district, where Thomas Kebbell and his brother John built the first steam sawmill. After returning to Wellington following the 1855 earthquake, Thomas Kebbell carried out duties as a J.P. and was active in business.
Thomas Kebbell died in 1890 by drowning during a yacht race on Wellington Harbour. The incident was reported by the Feilding Star of 23 January 1890:
Terrible Drowning Accidents
It is with deep regret that we record the death by drowning of Mr Thomas Kebbell, a well known citizen, which occurred during the progress of the First Class Yacht Race at the Regatta yesterday. Mr Kebbell, who has taken great interest in yachting for many years, was engaged in sailing the Florence, whicb was owned by him, when the accident occurred. The yacht, which was leading, had completed her second journey round the course, and shortly after passing the flagship Mr Kebbell took the tiller from Dr Fell, who formed one of the party, remarking, strangely enough, “that this would be the last race he would ever sail.” He was sitting on the weather gunwale of the boat holding on to the tiller lines, when he was observed by the doctor to suddenly fall backwards into the water. The yacht, which was travelling at a great rate, was put about as speedily as possible, and in the meantime Mr Cecil Kebbell jumped overboard with the intention of assisting his father. A small rowing boat, manned by two boys, which had been cruising about, had been brought up alongside Mr Kebbell, and the lads succeeded in holding his head above water until the Florence was brought up alongside. The unfortunate gentleman was then hauled into the boat as speedily as possible. Mr Kebbell had evidently been dead some time before he was taken out of the water.
The deceased gentleman was 71 years of age, arrived in New Zealand by the ship Mandarin in 1841. In co-operation with his brother he built a steam sawmill (afterward a flour mill) in the Manawatu, from which place he was driven by the earthquake of 1855, which destroyed the mill. He leaves a widow and six children. Three sons are living in the Wairarapa. and the three daughters are Mesdames H. P. Higginson, A. de B. Brandon, and Tilley (Wanganui). Inspector Thomson received the following telegram from Otaki last night Catherine Mary and Dora Ann Kebbell, 10 and 8 years respectively daughters of Mr J. Kebbell, J.P., Ohau, were drowned while bathing in the Ohau river at 11 a.m. to-day.” Mr J. Kebbell, father of the two children who have thus met with a terrible death, is a nephew of Mr T. Kebbell who was drowned yesterday. We feel sure that the people of Wellington generally will sympathise with the members of a highly esteemed family in their severe bereavement.
Flora (McDonald) Kebbell died on 20 December 1919, aged 91. The Dominion of 22 December 1919 carried the Death Notice: “Kebbell – On December 20, 1919, at her residence, No [..] Hobson Street, Flora, widow of the late Thomas Kebbell, Esq., in her 92nd year.” The Wairarapa Age of 24 December 1919 noted:
Many people will regret to hear of the death of Mrs. Flora Kebbell, widow of the late Mr. Thomas Kebbell, both being much respected and popular pioneer residents of Wellington, Mrs. Kebbell passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday morning early, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Tilly, of Hobson Street. She was in her 92nd year, and had enjoyed wonderfully good health, considering her advanced age. Mrs. Kebbell leaves three daughters, Mrs. Higginson, who is resident in England, Mrs. A. de B. Brandon, and Mrs. Tilly, both of Wellington. Her sons are Messrs William, Richard, and Cecil Kebbell.
The Dominion of 24 December 1919 published the following obituary:
AN INTERESTING MEMOIR
THE LATE MRS. THOMAS KEBBELL. On January 22 next it will be 80 years since the pioneers of the New Zealand Company landed at Petone, and laid the foundation of the settlement of New Zealand. Ship after ship followed in succession’ laden with immigrants and stores, and among them was the Blenheim, which cast anchor in Port Nicholson on December 27, 1840, welcomed by bright sunshine. Among her passengers was a girl twelve years of age accompanying her father, mother, brothers, and sister, who had left the home of their ancestors to found a new home in a new land, M’Donalds of Druimantorran, in Scotland, they sought a favourable turn of fortune’s wheel in New Zealand. The people of to-day cannot really form any conception of travel as it was in those days. The Blenheim was a ship of 378 tons burthen, and on that voyage carried 197 passengers, besides officers and crew. Salt meat and biscuits were the staple food, and the voyage lasted four months.
The excitement of the child on waking one morning and finding the, ship at anchor may be imagined, and her joy at seeing the beautiful harbour of Port Nicholson surrounded by hills, bush-clad to the water’s edge and alive with singing birds, created an impression which lasted her lifetime. For eight years she saw forest disappear to give place to dwellings and pasture during the infancy of the city of Wellington. Towards the end of 1848 she married Mr. Thomas Kebbell, who was then a pioneer settler on the banks of the Manawatu River, but in the meantime she had experienced the awful earthquake of that year. That convulsion so disturbed the peace of mind of some of the settlers that they chartered a schooner to take themselves and their goods and chattels to Sydney. They set sail at the earliest moment, and among them was one of three men prominent in the call for constitutional government, and who were known as “The Three F’s.” The wreck of the schooner at the heads put an end to the desire of Dr. William Fitzherbert to cast the dust of New Zealand from off his feet, and he subsequently did great service to the colony in helping to adjust the differences between Downing Street and its distant protege, ending in the launching of the “self-reliant” policy which quickly brought an end to the Native troubles that hitherto, under the Imperial control had seemed interminable.
The bride accompanied her husband to the Manawatu, making the journey on horseback, which at that time was the only alternative to walking. Riding along the Old Porirua Road, and passing the Porirua Harbour on the west side, they swam their horses across the entrance to the harbour at the ferry east of where Plimmerton now stands. Following the Maori track through the bush over the Pukerua hill and down to the seashore, they rode along the coast to the Manawatu River, and thence to their home.
Few nowadays know of the difficulties which then beset travellers on that coast – high spring tides, the rivers Waikanae, Otaki, Manakau, and Ohau each liable to flood, and each with a deep channel running back into sandhills. Many a traveller had been compelled to wait for hours or even days until the flood had subsided or the tide had ebbed sufficiently to allow of a passage in comparatively shallow water near the line of the breaking waves; or in the case of the Otaki the traveller might have made a laboured journey inland and sought, the assistance of a friendly Maori who would take him across the river in canoe and tow the horse behind. In those days the beach was the main road northward from Paekakariki as far as Scott’s Ferry on the Rangitikei River.
The earthquake of 1856 and unprecedented floods in the river ended the Manawatu venture, and the bride of ’48, with three children out of four (one having met the “New Zealand death” — drowned in the river) were brought to Wellington, where she saw further great changes in the development of the city. She had already seen forest removed for dwellings and pastures: later she saw shops and stores replace dwellings, and still later she saw dwellings displace horses and cows.
Nurtured in times when “woman rights” were motherhood and home management, home life was the life of the late Mrs. Kebbell. With all her faculties clear to within a few hours of death, she lived loved by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. With her death it might almost be said that the foundation of this Dominion has now passed from the ken of the eye-witness into the domain of tradition.
Flora and Thomas Kebbell had at least seven children:
- William McDonald Kebbell, born in 1850, died in 1933, married (1) Charlotte Ellen Willock in 1882, (2) Annie Hassell Liddle in 1902.
- Ann Kebbell, born in 1852, died in 1854 (drowned in the Manawatu River).
- Florence Kebbell, born in 1853, married Harry Pasley Higginson in 1874.
- Louisa Kebbell, born in 1858, died in 1941, married Alfred de Bathe Brandon jun. in 1879.
- Edith Kebbell, born in 1861, died in 1929, married Henry Johnston Robinson Tilly in 1883.
- Cecil Kebbell, born in 1866, died in 1938, married Mary Christina Cameron in 1896.
- Richard Cummings Kebbell, born in 1868, died in 1940.
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records that Alexander, son of Donald MacDonald, tacksman of Drimintoran, and Anne Cummings, was born 27th March baptized on the 5th April 1829.
In a letter of 2 August 1843, Jessie Campbell wrote, “I think I mentioned in former letter that one of Drimantoran’s sons had gone to be herdboy with his old servant, Angus McMaster, is not this terrible?”
In his memoir, Alexander MacDonald wrote:
In some respects I was a precocious boy, in other respects I was extremely slow in assimilating wisdom, of which I fear I have not a very large stock even now. As an example of my best qualities I will mention that coming out on the “Blenheim” I made the acquaintance of a Highland lassie of about my own age. We forthwith became sweethearts and agreed that when our respective parents would permit, or we became of age to act for ourselves, we certainly would marry. Well through thick and thin we stuck to that agreement, until I was a little over 22 years of age, and then my little sweetheart was foolish enough to become my wife. This is the only act of my life in which I showed absolutely just discrimination.
Alexander MacDonald and Annie Cameron were married on 13 January 1852. Annie was the daughter of Donald Cameron and Mary McPherson, sister of Jane (see Dugald McLachlan and Jane Cameron), and Mary (see Alexander Grant and Mary Cameron).
In Poyntzfield, Eliza McKenzie’s memories of the wedding day are recorded:
Though this was Mr Hogg’s first there, it was not the first Turakina marriage, because our beloved ‘Little Annie’ and Alick had gone to Wanganui before Mr Hogg had arrived. I think it was by ‘Missionary Taylor’ so well known and liked – but it might have been Mr Nicholl. I remember her coming to our house, accompanied by Mysie who introduced her as ‘Mrs MacDonald’ at which everyone laughed, and Annie blushed, looking lovelier than ever. Both ladies were bewildering in the beauty of their attire, culminating in the wreath of ‘orange blossom’ round the vivacious face of the bride, and some sprays on the outside of the bonnet mixed with ‘blond’ lace. Annie carried a nice little kit in her hand from which she presently took a parcel of wedding cake saying to Mother “This is something for you, somebody gave it to me and I have a bit for Mrs McGregor” with which they went on to ‘Annbank’, a vision of brightness to us.
Alexander McDonald’s memoirs provide an informed assessment of the issues arising in first few decades of settlement in New Zealand, and in particular his views and engagement in issues relating to Maori land purchases and the relationship with Maori. The memoir also provided a history of the various places he lived in and the people there, and was quoted extensively by his friend Sir James Wilson in his book Early Rangitikei.
It was as a result of his support for the rights of some Maori in relation to purchases that Alexander McDonald was imprisoned after shooting a horse pulling a mail coach to prevent it crossing Ngatikauwhata land. The iwi supported Alexander and his family with land and money during his imprisonment.
Ann Christian (Cameron) McDonald died on 26 February 1898. The Feilding Star of 1 March 1898 carried the following obituary:
Mrs A Macdonald: On Saturday night, at Shannon, there died one of the best-natured and truest-hearted women it is the lot of human beings to meet, Mrs Macdonald, wife of Alexander Macdonald, at the age of 69. Few women have had a more stirring life, and few have retained their natural kindness and love for their fellow-creatures to the same extent as Mrs Macdonald. As Miss Cameron, she came to the colony when quite a child, in the ’40’s, and both before and after marrying Mr Macdonald lived at Kaiwarra. From thence they went to the Wanganui district, subsequently removing to Turakina, Bulls, Kopani, Awahuri and Shannon. Coming to the bush districts years in advance of settlement, Mrs Macdonald had every opportunity of displaying that hospitality for which she was so well known, and very many can testify to her kindness even to those who had not the slightest claim to consideration. Her death leaves a good wife, a loving mother, and a kind friend the less in the world, and her relatives have our heartfelt sympathy in their loss. Mrs Macdonald had five married daughters (Mesdames Dundas, Scott, Lyons, Macintyre, and Nethercliffe), one single daughter, two sons (Adam and Donald), and a number of grandchildren. The funeral took place yesterday and was very largely attended.
Alexander McDonald died on 25 March 1905 at Shannon, aged 76.
The Manawatu Standard of 27 March 1905, contained the Death Notice: “McDonald – At his late residence, Shannon, Alexander McDonald, late of Rangitikei and Turakina, aged 76 years.” The newspaper also included the following obituary:
On Saturday last at Shannon, Mr Alexander McDonald, one of the best known settlers on this coast, died at the age of 76 years. Mr McDonald, who descended from the McDonalds of Glencoe, of historic fame, was born at Drimmentoran, in Argyleshire, in 1829. He came to the colony in the early forties, and after his marriage with Mrs McDonald (nee Miss Cameron), who predeceased him eight years ago, lived at Kaiwarra. From there he removed to Turakina and, subsequently, at different stages of his life, lived at Bulls, Kopani, Awahuri and Shannon. From his earliest days Mr McDonald was an authority in all native matters. He was created a chieftain by the Awahuri natives and dowered with a large acreage of land just adjacent to the township. Mr McDonald lived there for several years but, subsequently, owing to legal informalities at the time of the gift from the natives, had to re-transfer the property to the natives. He then removed to Shannon, where he has resided for the past ten years. There was, probably, no better Maori linguist in the colony, and for years the deceased gentleman acted as Native Assessor for the Government and Maori Interpreter. In the latter capacity he was engaged in several of the most important subdivisions of native property that have taken place on this coast. He was a keen friend of the natives, and possessed their confidence in a high degree. His life in the early days of the colony, during war time, was particularly adventurous, much more so than the average colonist of that time, and many a stirring tale the deceased gentleman could tell of the trials, tribulations and adventures of those historic days. As stated, his wife predeceased him eight years ago, but he is survived by five married daughters, Mesdames Dundas, Scott, Macintire, Lyons, and Nethercliffe, one unmarried daughter and two sons, Adam and Donald. Deceased was a man of splendid physique and bore his years remarkably well up to the last twelve months, when he aged considerably, and showed signs of failure of the heart. On Saturday he complained of feeling unwell and went to lie down. His son going to his room a few minutes later was just in time to be with him in the closing moment. The funeral will take place to-morrow, the 76th anniversary of his birth.
Annie and Alexander had eight children [details require confirmation and completion]:
- Mary McDonald, born in 1854, died in 1939, married Alexander Dundas in 1878.
- Annie McDonald, born in 1855, married (1) Henry Seegers Palmerson, (2) George Latta Rodaway Scott in 1891.
- Donald McDonald, born in 1857.
- Adam Alexander McDonald, born in 1860, died in 1940, married Mary Helen Sarah Dundas in 1898.
- Ada McDonald, born in 1863, married John Henry Lee Macintyre in 1887.
- Catherine McDonald.
- Georgina McDonald, born in 1866, died in 1945, married Alfred Richard Lyons in 1889.
- Margaret McDonald, born in 1869, died in 1924, married Edward Cyril Morley Netherclift in 1897.
Campbell Riddell McDonald
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian records that Campbell Riddell, son of Mr Donald MacDonald of Drimintoran, was born 22nd July and baptized 30th ditto 1830.
Campbell McDonald was 10 years old when he embarked on the Blenheim.
In 1845 Jessie Campbell wrote in a letter, “Campbell Macdonald has determined on going to sea and is bound apprentice to Capt. Dawson of the Skiro Castle when his contract with the Government expires, she is to go home and will be at least 5 months at Home. Campbell is to spend that time with his friends in the Highlands, he is at present with the ship in Auckland, he is a very steady boy.”
Campbell Riddell MacDonald died on 11 January 1853 aged 22. The Wellington Independent of 12 January 1853 carried the Death Notice: “On Tuesday, the 11th instant, at Wellington, Mr Campbell Riddell McDonald, aged 22 years.”
The Old Parish Register for Ardnamurchan and Strontian recorded that Thomas, son of Donald MacDonald and Anne Cumming, was born September 9th 1835.
Thomas McDonald was 5 years old on the voyage of the Blenheim.
Thomas McDonald moved to North Canterbury and worked on a number of farms before moving to Waikuku. He was active in community affairs, especially the Waikuku School Committee.
Thomas McDonald married Annie Ford, formerly Adams, in 1864.
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], 1903, carried the following entry:
McDonald, Thomas, Woolscourer and Farmer, Waikuku Woolworks, Waikuku. These works were established in 1869, by Mr. W. Bailey, the present proprietor having acquired them in 1872. Mr. McDonald was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, in 1835, and arrived in Wellington with his parents in 1840, by the ship “Blenheim.” As soon as he was old enough he became a cadet on a station. Having qualified as a manager, Mr. McDonald was in charge of Horsley Downs estate for about eighteen years, and settled at Waikuku in 1872. He has for many years served on the Waikuku school committee, and for a long period held the position of chairman. Mr. McDonald is a member of the committee of the Northern Agricultural and Pastoral Association. He was married, in 1864, to the widow of the late Mr. T. K. Adams, and has four sons and four daughters.
Thomas McDonald died on 2 August 1907. The Press of 3 August 1907 published the following obituary:
DEATH OF AN OLD COLONIST
MR T. McDONALD,
The many friends of Mr T. McDonald, of Waikuku, will learn with regret of his death, which occurred at an early hour yesterday morning. He had been ill three weeks, and a few days ago underwent a serious operation, which afforded temporary relief. Mr McDonald was a native of Argyleshire, Scotland, and arrived, with his parents by the ship Blenheim, at Wellington, in 1840. Shortly afterwards Mr McDonald came to Canterbury, and, as a cadet, was well known. For some years he was at Motonau, and took charge of Cheviot when that country was first taken up by Mr J. S. Caverhill. He became manager for Messrs J. W. Mallock and J. D. Lance at Horsley Downs, on which large run he remained for about eighteen years. About 1872 Mr McDonald took over the Waikuku wool scouring works, which had been started by Mr Joseph Bailey, of Christchurch. Mr McDonald was chairman of the Waikuku School Committee and manifested a very keen interest in the education of the children of his district for twenty-five years. He likewise held a position as a warden of the Woodend Church, and was foremost in matters intended for the benefit of the district. He was a most valuable supporter of the local Agricultural Show, and one of the earliest members of the North Canterbury Racing Club, being an admirer of good honest sport. He was a gentleman of thoroughly genial and open-hearted disposition, and through life won the highest respect and loyalty from all whom he employed. His business transactions were characterised by irreproachable methods in conducting the same. He married in the early sixties, and leaves a widow, four sons, and four daughters. His sons are: – Messrs H. McDonald (Pyne and Co.), J. McDonald (North Canterbury Stores), R. McDonald (Waikuku), and G. McDonald (Hawarden). Flags were flown at half-mast in Rangiora yesterday, and at the horse fair general regret was expressed on all sides on hearing of Mr McDonald’s death.
Thomas and Annie had nine children:
- Flora Agnes McDonald, born in 1865, died in 1950.
- Harry Donald McDonald, born in 1867, died in 1924, married Mary Agnes Buss in 1895.
- John Glencoe McDonald, born in [1868, died in 1938, married Edith Nora Steele in 1902].
- Thomas Campbell McDonald, born in 1870, died in 1877.
- Catherine Annie McDonald, born in 1872, died in 1934, married John Pratt Andrews in 1902.
- Constance May McDonald, born in 1873, died in 1946, married Joshua Henshaw in 1897.
- Ronald McDonald, born in 1875, married Alexandrina Agnes Palmerson in 1903.
- Isabel Margaret McDonald, born in 1876, married William Charles Frank Lukis in 1906.
- Duncan George McDonald, born in 1878, died in 1953, married Elsie Annie Archer in 1903.
Duncan Campbell McDonald
The Old Parish Register for Ballachulish and Corran of Ardgour recorded that Duncan Campbell, son of Donald McDonald Esq., and Ann Cumming, Calchenna, was born 3rd July 1839 and baptized on 9 August 1838.
The electoral roll for Kaiapoi in 1890 listed Duncan Campbell McDonald, Waikuku, accountant.
The Feilding Star of 20 July 1900 carried the following Death Notice: “McDonald — On July 16th, at Waikuku, Canterbury, at the residence of his brother, Duncan Campbell McDonald, youngest son of the late Donald McDonald of Druimintorran, Argyleshire, Scotland aged 60 years.”
- Blenheim passenger lists at FamilySearch website
- Family trees on Ancestry.com
- ScotlandsPeople website
- PapersPast website
- NZ BDM records
- Jessie Campbell’s Journal and Letters.
- 19th Century British Newspapers at Gale Online Newspapers, via NZ Society of Genealogists
- Alexander MacDonald, 1829-1905: My Story, transcription at National Library of New Zealand
- J G Wilson, Early Rangitikei, 1914, available online at The Internet Archive.
- Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], 1903 on the NZETC website.
- Canterbury Museum, Macdonald Dictionary, index cards with biographical information on early Canterbury settlers.