Month: June 2017

Captain McDonald – Ships and Adventures

The Terceira Blockade: Captain McDonald was certainly an adventurer in his exploits at sea. His death notice makes reference to his having participated in the blockade of Terceira (Azores) involving British forces during the so called ‘Liberal Wars’ of the Portugese Civil War of 1828 to 1836.   WMcD Death Notice The obituary reference appears to be the only record of his involvement, that exploit having apparently been lost in the lore of our Wilson family. A little research has dug out the pertinent facts of this conflict and the part the British played in it, and by implication the...

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The Gold Handled Sword – Loss, Search, Dirty Tricks and Rediscovery

On our Honours and Connections mainpages there are articles about our illustrious ancestor Captain William McDonald, his Duke of Marlborough experience and the associated ‘Gold Handled Sword. Somewhere early in the 1950s the sword which Captain McDonald had been presented by the passengers on board his ship, ‘The Duke’, went missing under suspicious circumstances. The question of what happened to it and where it might be intrigued Wilson descendants for over 50 years – the search continued intermittently through all that time without success. Fitting of any Agatha Christie mystery thriller we did have a ‘Suspect No.1′; no less...

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The Skelton’s Voyage – Leith to Van Diemen’s Land

The dangers of the five month voyage to the Antipodes were well known to seafarers and emigrants alike – and yet they still set out, in courage and in hope – seeking a better life as they followed their vision of the future in a new land. Perhaps equal to the physical dangers was the terrible boredom, so apparent on the faces in the below-decks steerage class image above. In 1821 during his return to Scotland the Captain of the Skelton, James Dixon, wrote a little book about the 1820 voyage out from Leith (Port of Edinburgh) and the...

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Captain William MacDonald – Mariner/Adventurer

The Seafaring MacDonalds: The MacDonald name has been used as a middle name down the John Bowman Wilson line of the family for several generations. It comes from John Bowman Wilson’s father in law, William MacDonald, probable step-father of Agnes Eliza McDonald to whom John Bowman was married in Hobart in 1851. William McDonald, was a seafarer (as was his father) for over 35 years between 1800 and 1840, indeed Captain and/or Master of several vessels operating both in and around European and southern Atlantic waters, and later in Australia sailing between Hobart and Adelaide, Hobart and Two Fold...

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Scottish Origins – Newbigging Village

Newbigging (an Anglo-Saxon word literally meaning ‘new house/building’) village nestles in the beautiful Scottish lowlands some 30 km north of Dundee, and 10 km west of Monifieth township on the coast. It locates within Monikie Parish just outside of Monifieth Parish boundary. In the feature image above we see the village surrounded by post harvest summer fields, the Drumsturdiemuir  strip settlement spanning the mid-distance right to left, Laws (Hill) and farm beyond, and just visible in the far distance the Tay Estuary and County Fife. Our Wilsons from at least mid 18th century lived and worked, and had their...

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