Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Napier witnesses: Donald Macdonald, St Kilda

Donald Macdonald is quoted aged 36 at the time that he gives evidence to Lord Napier's Commission in St Kilda. We find him in the 1881 census as a joint crofter with his mother Cath (60). He is in the same household as his niece Christina Gillies (28) and young son Donald (5).

Ten years later, Donald can be seen with his wife Rachel, who is 20 years his junior. Whether this is accurate is debatable, as it would mean she had her son Donald (now 15) at the age of 11. They had Ewen (3) and Catherine (1) between 1881 and '91.

In 1901, Donald is listed at 16 Main Street, St Kilda, with Rachel and his children Ewen (12), Catherine (11), Angus (2), Donald (5) and Rachel (18 months). Mother Rachel is a handspinner of wool; Donald senior's occupation has been corrupted in transcription, but appears to read "Crofter, handloom weaver of wool".

Donald Macdonald drowned in Village Bay, St Kilda at 11 am on 22 March 1909, aged 66. He is only marked as 'married', with his parents names Donald Macdonald and Catherine Mackinnon. The entry on the death record is one of three men who all died in Village Bay on the same date. The others were married man Norman Macleod Macqueen (29) and John Macqueen (17), single - these two were brothers. As a result of this tragedy, the island school was closed for a week.

Rachel, Donald's widow, was evacuated from St Kilda with all other residents on 29 August 1930, aged 67, and ended up in Lochaline.

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