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Highland Emigration


The Catholic Highlands of Scotland

The Western Highlands and Islands

By Dom. Odo Blundell, O.S.B., F.S.A. (Scot.)

Sands & Co. 1917

Page 185.

" Thirty years later Dr. MacDonald, of Taunton, received an interesting account of the Glengarry emigrants from his friend, Mr. D. McPherson. I give it almost in full, as it occurs in "Memoir of MacDonald, of Keppoch."

"Chambly, Canada, N.A. 26th Dec. 1814.

" My Dear Sir, - Having just returned from a visit of a month to the new county of Glengarry, I cannot help endeavouring to give some account of it, as well as the present condition of many of our countrymen who were driven from their native land, and who directed their course to America in search of a better fortune.

"The county is a square of 24 miles, all of which and the greater part of the next county (Stormont) are occupied by Highlanders, containing at this moment from 1,100 to 1,200 families, two thirds of them MacDonalds. More able fellows of that name could be mustered there in twenty-four hours, than Keppoch and Glengarry could have done at any time in the Mother country.

" You might travel over the whole of the county and by far the greater part of Stormont, without hearing a word spoken but the good Gaelic. Every family, even of the lowest order, has a landed property of 200 acres; the average value of which, in its present state of cultivation, with the cattle, etc., upon it may be estimated at from 800 to 1000 pounds. However poor the family (but indeed there are none can be called so) they kill a bullock for the winter consumption; the farm or estate supplies them with abundance of butter, cheese, etc., etc. Their houses are small but comfortable, having a ground floor and garret, with a regular chimney and glass windows.

" The appearance of the people is at all times respectable, but I was delighted at seeing them at church on a Sunday; the men clothed in good English cloth, and many of the women wore the Highland plaid.

"The chief object of my visit to Glengarry was to see an old acquaintance, Mr. Alexander MacDonald, a priest, who has been resident in this country ten years. I believe you know him, or at least you know who he is.

A more worthy man is not in Canada; he is the mainstay of the Highlanders here; they apply to him for redress in all their grievances, and an able and willing advocate they find in him. He is well known from the poorest man to the Governor, and highly respected by all. Were he ambitious of enriching himself, he might ere now be possessed of immense property; but this appears not to be his object; his whole attention is devoted to the good of the settlement; and the great and numerous services which he has done, cannot well be calculated.

" Colonel John MacDonald, of Aberchalder, died some years ago, and left one son and three daughters .

The Colonel's sister, Mrs. Wilkinson, died a few months since and left a son and three daughters- Mr. MacDonald of Greenfield, who was married to the other sister, has a very considerable property here; he is Lieut.-Colonel of the Second Regiment of Glengarry Militia. One of his sons, Donald, is also Lieut.-Colonel; his second son is a Captain in the same corps . Mr. MacDonald of Lundi died in this settlement some time since, but his brother, Allan, now upwards of ninety, is still alive and well .George MacDonald, son of Captain John MacDonald of Lulu, who died Captain of Invalids, at Berwick, recruited the Glengarry Regiment of Light Infantry, and is now Lieut.-Colonel commanding in this district, and Inspecting Field Officer of Militia. The good conduct of the Glengarry Light Infantry, as well as the Militia Regiments of the county, has been so frequently noticed and thanked in public orders, that it is unnecessary for me to say anything in their praise. They have on every!
occasion, when placed before the enemy, supported the character of Highlanders."

The Emigrations of 1773, and subsequent years, left but few of the older families in Glengarry; and at the present time there is only too much truth in the lines of W. Allan (Celtic Mag., Oct., 1885):

" The Glen of my fathers no longer is ours,

The Castle is silent and roofless its towers,

The hamlets have vanished and grass growing green

Now covers the hillocks where once they had been;

The song of the stream rises sadly in vain,

No children are here to rejoice in the strain.

No voices are heard by loch Oich's lone shore,

Glengarry is here; but Glengarry no more."


[SD&G] MacDonell/Chisholm/Fraser
"Hugh Niven"
Sun, 17 Feb 2002 19:58:07 -0800

The People of Glengarry

Highlanders in Transition, 1745-1820

Marianne McLean

Allan MacDonell, half brother of Bishop Alexander Macdonell

Page 104.

" The story of the 1785 emigration to Canada cannot be established definitely in all its detail, but when documentary and oral sources are put together, a cohesive narrative of the emigrants journey to Canada emerges. The emigrants left Scotland under the leadership of Allan MacDonell. Later a Justice of the Peace in Glengarry County and described as "Esquire, " MacDonell was born at Inchlaggan on the Glengarry estate in 1746. (His younger brother Alexander, later Bishop MacDonell of Kingston, was a commanding figure in Canadian history).26


NA, MG9/D7/6 microfilm reel C-3029, parish register of St. Raphael's 15 Dec.1826, 520. This identification of Bishop Alexander MacDonell of Kingston as the brother of Allan MacDonell, leader of the 1785 party, is based on notes in George Sandfield MacDonald's oral history of Glengarry. Sandfield Macdonald names Squire Allan MacDonell as one of the 1787 emigrants by way of Albany (NA, MG29 C29, notebook with first page blank, interview with Captain Grey). The date (1787) is an error for 1785, as will be shown in the following pages. George Sandfield MacDonald also refers to Squire Allan as the bishop's brother (ibid.,notebook, Family II) The obituary of Squire Allan MacDonell that appears in the Upper Canada Gazette names Allan as leader of the 1785 emigration(see note 24, above) and was written by Bishop MacDonell (MacGillivray and Ross, History of Glengarry, 10).

Alexander MacDonell

The Scottish Years

Kathleen M. Toomey

"His parents were Angus (Aeneas) MacDonell and Nancy Cameron and he had a sister Margaret and a half-brother, Allan, from his father's previous marriage.7 There were at least two other brothers, but whether fully or partially related, is not clear. It is doubtful whether either of them ever married for both died as "Adventures" in the West Indies.8

He himself claimed to be a man of the people and not of the cadet families within the clan, although he referred to the families of Glengarry, Scothouse (Scotus) and Chisholm as his cousins, and was acknowledged by them as such, and Andrew MacDonell posits the probability that his mother was a distant relative of Sir Allan Cameron of Erracht.

It appears that The Bishop MacDonell refers to the Bishops John and Aeneas Chisholm, sons of Valentine Chisholm and Janet Macdonell, as well as William Fraser Ninth of Guisachan, son of William Fraser 8th of Guisachan and his wife Margaret MacDonell, d/o John MacDonell of Ardnabie and Mary his wife, daughter of Glengarry as his cousins.

It appears that the Ardnabie branch, in particular John MacDonell as the originators of the MacDonell of Leek group.

Why don't you just put me out of my misery by telling me who the children of John MacDonell of Ardnabie and his wife Mary are.

Are they,

Janet MacDonell, wife of Valentine Chisholm

Angus MacDonell, father of the Bishop MacDonell

Margaret MacDonell, wife of Fraser 8th of Guisachan.