very dapper gent, Angus "The Ridge" MacDonald, is a very distant
cousin to our family.
Angus was born in 1866 on his father's farm in Upper South
River, Antigonish county. He was the son of Alexander MacDonald
and Catherine Cameron. Angus belonged to a branch of MacDonalds
from the Braes of Lochaber, Scotland, called "Sliochd an Taighe"
or"People of the House," which initially settled near a ridge
(hence the family name) in South West Mabou, Cape Breton Island.
Other branches of this same family such as the "Hunter,""Tullach,"
and "Painter" MacDonalds settled in both Antigonish and Inverness
counties where their descendants are still known by these
Angus' grandfather, Alexander, settled in South West Mabou
in 1816. He belonged to a long line of poets and tradition bearers
that stretched back to Iain Dubh Bohuntin (1513-1547) and the
chiefs of the Keppoch MacDonalds. Alexander's son, Allan (b. 1794)
was a well known Gaelic poet whose work, as well as appearing in
local newspapers and song collections, was published in A. MacLean
Sinclair's Glenbard Collection and Keith N. MacDonald's The Gaelic
Bards 1825-1875. The family was widely acknowledged for their
talents in music, storytelling, family history and song
composition. Perhaps Allan's most famous composition was "Cumha
Ceap Breatainn" or "Lament for Cape Breton" which was composed on
the occasion of his resettlement on the mainland.
Angus MacDonald was regarded as one of the last of a dying
breed of Gaelic poets and oral historians--certainly in Antigonish
County, where the Gaelic language was quickly becoming extinct. He
was first recorded in 1936 by John Lorne Campbell and Margaret
Faye Shaw. Angus' song repertoire consisted of many songs from the
Lochaber tradition and included a war song as well as some
belonging to the milling genre. The stories collected by Leach
from Angus MacDonald are a combination of fairytales, legends and
humorous character tales.
Photo from Songs Remembered in Exile. Used with permission of
Margaret Faye Shaw. and the MacEdward Leech collection.
The Family of James of Baillie
By Donald Jack MacDonald July 2004
The history of the Clanranald and Keppock
MacDonald’s is one of the more interesting Scottish genealogy
paths. My main interest, at this point, is to connect this
lineage to Cape Breton. James “of Baillie” MacDonald was born
on the Baillie farm in about 1730. Authorities believe that
both he and his father, Donald Mor MacDonald, were tacksmen of
Clanranald. History tells us that they were loyal to the Chief
of Clanranald and to Prince Charles. Both James and his father
fought at Culloden and were among the lucky few to escape to and
survive in the wilds and the Scottish Highlands.
On July 12, 1790, James “of Baillie” (age 60 years)
and Alexander “Alasdair” <James of Baillie>, his son, and
Alexander’s wife Janet and five children boarded the “Lucy”
bound for Prince Edward Island, Canada. The “Lucy”, the “Jane”
and the “British Queen” were three immigration ships which all
set sail from Druimindarroch, Morar, Scotland in July, 1790.
The continued arrivals of the Glenallandale (there are various
spellings) Scottish immigrants overwhelmed the Prince Edward
Island settlement so that many of the later arrivals found it
necessary to move to Nova Scotia, Canada. Thus, the family of
Alexander “Alasdair” <James of Baillie> with his family and his
father moved on with others to form the community of Arisaig in
what is now Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, Canada. James “of
Baillie” MacDonald died in this new community in 1796. This was
also the year in which two of his younger sons, Donald Ban
<James of Baillie> MacDonald and Ranald “Pioneer” <James of
Baillie> MacDonald immigrated from Scotland. Eventually the
members of the family would settle in the areas of Creignish,
Creigish Rear, and Judique, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
Donald Ban (1763-1858) [Generation 1] married had a
daughter, Sara (1803-?) [Generation 2]. Sara <Donald Ban 1763>
married Donald “The Ridge” MacDonald who was the founder of the
“Ridge” MacDonalds. Sara <Donald Ban 1763> has a son, Allan
<Donald the Ridge> MacDonald (1836) [Generation 3]. Allan has a
son, James Allen Jr. <Allan> MacDonald (1883) [Generation 4].
James Allen has a son, Ronald Joseph <James Allen Jr.> MacDonald
(1927) [Generation 5].
Ranald “Pioneer” <James of Baillie> MacDonald
[Generation 1] has a son, Ranald <Ranald Pioneer> MacDonald, Jr.
(about 1808) [Generation 2]. Ranald MacDonald, Jr. has a
daughter Mary <Ranald 1808> (1854) [Generation 3]. Mary has a
son, James “Sheumais Angus” MacDonald (1870) [Generation 4].
James “Sheumais Angus” has a son, Angus Gillis “Sandy” <Sheumais
Gillis> MacDonald (1900) [Generation 5]. Angus Gillis had a
son, Donald Jack MacDonald (1932) [Generation 6].
I am Donald Jack MacDonald the 4th great grandson of
James “of Baillie” MacDonald. Ronald Joseph MacDonald is the
3rd great grandson of James of Baillie” MacDonald. The roots of
this family tree are long and strong and its branches are
numerous and the leaves are too many to count. Currently I have
about 50,000 leaves on this family tree, but add more on a daily
basis. I have a web site on Ancestry.com (MacDonald’s of
Clanranald) should any of you wish a more in depth look. I have
used sobriquets both in quotation marks and within carrots
freely in an effort to try and distinguish between individuals.
The sobriquet "Ridge" comes from "Mabou Ridge" which is the name
of the old pioneer homestead at South West Mabou in Inverness
County, Nova Scotia, Canada.