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 presence of Captain McDonald and we may reasonably conclude his merchant schooner ‘Good Intent’.
Perhaps, as history shows was often the case in these sorts of circumstances, William made excellent profits on this dangerous venture – sufficient maybe to grade up from his much smaller schooner of 92 tons, to the full size sailing ship Britomart of 242 tons, immediately prior to sailing to Australia in 1833.
By way of background this record from Wikipedia tells us what the conflict was about. The link following is an excerpt from a historical source document ‘Tales of the Wars’. We have highlighted certain of its contents to illustrate the British involvement – they were not belligerents, rather they were there in order to protect British commercial interests. We might reasonably conclude that Captain McDonald was there to advance his own commercial interests. The story makes interesting reading of the plots and subplots of all the parties, neutrals and belligerents, who participated. The Blockade of Terceira by Dom Miguel
The Good Intent & the Captain’s ‘Other Wife’: Cousin Glenden Andrews during a trip to Europe in research on our famous Captain of Gold Handled Sword fame discovered some very interesting new facts about him and his maritime experiences.
In her visit to Falmouth to view our sword, Glenden secured the support of the Falmouth Maritime museum staff to search out information about William’s connection with the ship Good Intent, on board which in 1831 in Antwerp harbour his ‘daughter’ Agnes Eliza McDonald Smith was born.
Now quoting from Glenden’s report on her discovery –
Britomart – the Captain’s final Ship: Hereunder is a compendium of notes taken from the two publications – Shipping Arrivals & Departures, Tasmania, Volume 1, 1803-1833, and Volume 2, 1834-1842. These summarise Captain McDonald’s known involvement with his ship the Britomart.
Official reports about the Britomart’s loss at sea with all hands are set out in papers under the Stories 2 mainpagestory – Captain William McDonald, Mariner/Adventurer.
Notes on Capt. McDonald and the Britomart
We know from the same sources (also same ref. but 1834-1842) that Capt. McDonald arrived in Hobart from London with freight and passengers on the Britomart with his family in December 1834 and he is listed as the Captain. Britomart was an ex RN Brig/Sloop, 242 tons, built at Deptford, England 1808 and sold in Feb 1819, presumably not to William McDonald as we know he is still on his ship Good Intent in December 1831 in Antwerp. The Britomart carried the same name as it did when an RN ship – there were prior and subsequent RN ships of that name too.