Month: October 2017

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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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. Captain McDonald’s Obituary 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 (as we assumed – incorrectly for that date, but not for a later date) to grade up from his much smaller schooner of 92 tons, to the full size barque sailing ship Britomart of 242 tons, immediately prior to sailing to Australia in 1834. 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...

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The Gold Handled Sword – From Tasmania to Falmouth

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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Gold Handled Sword – Loss, Search and Dirty Tricks

The story of search for and rediscovery of Captain William McDonald’s sword has been commented on in the other articles on the site. But perhaps an equally interesting part is the means by which the sword managed to get all the way from Tasmania where Captain McDonald had it until his death in 1846, and into the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth, where it was rediscovered in 2007. It really is a fascinating story involving a little intrigue flavoured with let’s say a little touch of deviousness. We relate the story using a set of fictional names in place...

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Robert Stevenson Baden-Powell Smith: A Marrying Man, and Usurper of Swords

Just who was this bloke with the super fanciful name – and how does he come to become an associate of our otherwise upstanding Wilson family. Well, it’s a long story which has taken some 56 years to unravel. It’s said that every family has a villian or two, and we are no exception with Tom as he was apparently called filling the bill as number one public villian of our Wilson family story. Tom’s felony – he absconded with the pride of place heirloom of our family – the Gold Handled Ceremonial Sword (pictured below) of our illustrious (perhaps even swashbuckling ?) master mariner, Captain William McDonald, awarded to him for bravery under fire in an infamous incident on the high seas in 1814. Captain McDonald’s stories may be read under the several headings on the Stories mainpage of this site....

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