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Admiral David Robertson-Macdonald
11th of Kinlochmoidart


Admiral David Robertson-Macdonald, 11th of Kinlochmoidart

Biographical Summary

"XI. David Robertson-Macdonald, born August 6, 1817, a retired Admiral in His Majesty's Fleet. He joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer of the 1st class, and was subsequently employed on the coast of Portugal and the north coast of Spain during the civil wars in those countries, and afterwards in the West Indies and Mediterranean. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in August, 1841, and in that rank served in H.M.S. Hazard during the operations up the River Yang-tse-Kiang in the Chinese War of 1842. He was then sent to the station which included New Zealand and the Islands in the South Pacific.

While in New Zealand, in March, 1845, a serious rising of the natives took place, and he, being in acting command consequent on the death of Commander Charles Bell, in August, 1844, was sent by the Governor, Captain Fitzroy, R.N., to protect the inhabitants of Korararika, in the Bay of Islands. Having landed, on March 11, 1845, with a party of seamen and marines, he was severely wounded while resisting the attack of an overwhelming body of well-armed natives. For his services on this occasion he was promoted Commander, and a sword, with an address, was presented to him by the inhabitants of Auckland and Korararika, and similar addresses were presented to him, his officers, and men from the inhabitants of Wellington, Port Nicholson, and Nelson.

In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, on July 23, 1845, thus alluded to his services: "There is another individual who has been alluded to, and to whom I wish to do justice: I mean that gallant officer, Mr Robertson, to whom the gallant Commodore (Sir Charles Napier) has referred. The scene on which that gallant officer performed his services is a very distant one, and the services themselves may not have cast around them that eminence and distinction which sometimes attend services not more important; but I think it is for the public interest that we should show in the House of Commons that the distance of the scene and the comparative unimportance of the conflict do not make us oblivious of rare merit. Sir, I must say that his conduct stands forward in honourable contrast with the conduct of others concerned on that occasion, and I rejoice to find a British officer not thinking whether his ship was to be surprised by a parcel of savages, but, leaving that ship, and setting on shore that gallant example which so many officers of the Navy have before set, and rallying round him till he was wounded the flagging spirits of the civilians. And here I wish to make it known to the House of Commons that that conduct shall not pass unrewarded. In justice to him, and as an encouragement to others, that conduct shall receive its reward by the earliest opportunity being taken to give him that promotion to which he is so eminently entitled."

In 1849 he was appointed to the command of H.M.S. Cygnet, on the West Coast of Africa, and for a year he was actively engaged in putting down the slave trade.

In 1851 he was appointed Inspecting Commander in H.M. Coast Guard, and served in that capacity till he was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1858. From 1862 to 1879 he was an Assistant Inspector of Lifeboats to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. For his services in saving life he was awarded the silver medal of that institution in 1870. He also holds the China and New Zealand medals.


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