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McDonald, Hugh (1779–1819)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Hugh McDonald (1779-1819), soldier, was born on 20 April 1779 at Appin, Argyllshire, Scotland. After serving six years in the Breadalbane Fencibles he enlisted in the 46th Regiment on 9 April 1799. On 21 October 1803 he married Mary Ann Burrowes at Cork. He served in the West Indies in 1804-11 and was promoted quartermaster on 8 July 1813. He arrived in Sydney in the Windham with the headquarters and most of the remainder of the 46th Regiment in February 1814, and with his wife and one child. Three more children were born in Sydney.

In July 1817 Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent a long dispatch to the Duke of York, commander-in-chief, complaining about the conduct of Colonel George Molle and most other officers of the regiment, of whom some had ridiculed the governor, others had engaged in trading and farming speculations, and nearly all had refused to have any intercourse with emancipists. However, he listed eleven, including Quartermaster McDonald, who had displayed 'Uniformly Steady and Gentlemanlike Conduct', though since March 1814 McDonald had been ordering from London large consignments of softgoods and other items to retail in the colony. He did his business from premises in York Street and sent his private orders to Dickey, Shaw & Co., London, from whom he, as quartermaster, was accustomed to buy the regiment's clothing. The first of these orders included 144 dozen pairs of ladies' light-blue or white silk stockings, 4000 yards (3658 m) of linen check, 1000 yards (914 m) of duck, 100 dozen knives and forks, 1000 balls of sewing cotton, and '6 of the Best Fashionable Straw Bonnets for Ladies with Trimmings'. Such orders continued but the London firm evidently kept itself well informed about the prospective movements of oversea customers, for in response to an order in June 1815 it sent him in May 1816 goods to the value of £471 11s. 5d.; 'much less than you give directions for—but we could not feel justified in increasing your order above your remittance as the Regiment is under orders to proceed to India'.

In September 1817 McDonald sailed for India with the regiment in the Matilda, leaving his wife and children in Sydney where his last child was born in June 1818. His wife was looking after his property, but soon after he arrived at Vellore he applied for twelve months leave to enable him to attend to his business affairs in Sydney and to take his family back to the regiment. Leave was granted and he reached Sydney probably early in 1819, but on 9 September he died, leaving an estate of £1500 to his wife and four children. On 6 June 1821 his widow married Matthew Bacon, a merchant; he carried on the business at York Street, and died on 23 August 1825. On 11 January 1828 Mary married Bernard Rochford, a farmer from County Galway, Ireland, who had arrived as a convict in the Prince Regent in January 1821. Rochford died on 11 August 1839 and his widow on 12 September 1855.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 9
  • H. McDonald, letter book, Feb 1813-3 Oct 1818, annotated by A. J. Gray (Royal Australian Historical Society Library, Sydney).

Citation details

'McDonald, Hugh (1779–1819)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/mcdonald-hugh-2395/text3161, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 26 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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