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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (Mc)
Jane McLachlan


The first born child & eldest daughter Jane McLachlan was baptized on the 18th November 1850 in West Maitland NSW while her parents were at the Scottish settlement of Williams River. Her parents were Daniel McLachlan (1825-1882) & Jane McPherson (1827-1871), both from Scotland. Jane McLachlan gained the name of "Jane" in honour of her maternal family history, her own mother, her maternal grandmother & her maternal great grandmother and so on.

Jane McLachlan McDonald  & dau Jean McDonald Blackwell  -circa 1910
Jane McLachlan McDonald & dau Jean McDonald Blackwell - circa 1910

When Jane was a wee toddler, who still needed at times to be carried by one of her parents, her parents & she travelled by wagonette or something similar into the Bathurst area where the family settled on the farming property of  "Sorn Bank".

Soon Jane McLachlan was beginning her  "apprenticeship"   to her mother in the awareness, observation, imitation, understanding & finally expertise in the multi-faceted role of mother's household help & nursery maid/governess. She was to help first with her eldest brother, Daniel born 1852.  When the sixth child & fifth daughter, Barbara,  was born in 1860, Jane McLachlan gained the job of lifelong carer of this little lassie, as Barbara was an invalid all her life.

On the date of the family tragedy that occurred on the 12th September in 1871, Jane McLachlan assumed the major duties of the McLachlan household & children. The intensely strong bond that had been forged between the mother & daughter held Jane to that responsibility. As well as that Jane then became the right hand person to her father in matters relating to the inn.

Family of Andrew McDonald  & wife Iris & daughters Jane & Evelyn
Family of Andrew McDonald & wife Iris & daughters Jane & Evelyn

On the 6th January 1875, Jane McLachlan married Andrew McDonald,  a gold miner of Mitchell's Creek, at the manse of the old St Stephen's Presbyterian Church in Bathurst with Reverend A. Constable Geikie D.D. (later  L.L.D.) officiating.  Immediately they set off for the gold fields of Trunkey Creek near Blayney further west in New South Wales.

Andrew McDonald was the son of Alexander McDonald & Elizabeth McKinnon.  He had at least two brothers,  Robert & Alexander McDonald.  Robert died in 1874; & Andrew was noted as the undertaker. Similarly he had been involved in 1871,  with the burial of Jane's mother at Meadow Flat cemetery. He seems to have been a very caring empathetic person.

In 1875, the  goldfields at Trunkey Creek were "booming".  Thus, after their marriage,  the couple travelled with Alexander McDonald,  Andrew's brother, & Alexander's wife & family to the mines of Trunkey Creek.  Barbara McLachlan, Jane's invalid sister & special responsibility,  was with them also.

While in Trunkey Creek,  the eldest child, a son, Robert McDonald was born 1875. This son received the name of  "Robert "  in honour of  Andrew's brother who had passed away in 1874 at Mitchell's Creek. In all probability, the name of  :"Robert"  was impressed in the McKinnon-McDonald ancestry of Jane McLachlan's husband, Andrew McDonald.

At Trunkey Creek, however, two sad events occurred. They were the deaths of Jane's sister, Barbara McLachlan, only fifteen years old,  in 1876, & the young couple's second child in 1877. These two persons are probably buried out in the bushland near the miners' cottages of that pioneering Day.

Thankfully,  brightness glowed again at Trunkey Creek in 1878,  when the couple's first &  one & only daughter, was born. The little girl was given the name of   "Jean"  another form of  "Jane". Thus this name was of the greatest symbolism in the maternal ancestry of the mother, Jane McLachlan.  Her mother was Jane McPherson, her maternal grandmother, was Jean Wagstaff & one of her maternal great grandmothers was Jean Brown,  & so on.

The little girl, Jean McDonald,  was to grow to be even more of a  strong & capable  "right hand"  to her own mother than Jane McLachlan had been to her mother, Jane McPherson. This was to happen due to the fact that  Jean McDonald was to be the "one & only" daughter of the McLachlan-McDonald household.  Also it is able to be imagined that she was very special in the eyes especially of her own father, Andrew McDonald being as she was his ---  "one & only" daughter

About the year 1879, the little family parted company with the Alexander McDonald family & journeyed to the central coast area of Port Stephens near Newcastle, where the coal mines were "booming".   Here Andrew McDonald was involved in mining the coal of the area.

While at Port Stephens, the next child, Duncan Alexander McDonald was probably born as his name appears in the registration of Port Stephens in 1880.  The second son received the first name of  "Duncan"  in honour of Jane's maternal grandfather & many of the name  "Duncan McPherson"  before that.   "Alexander" was in honour of his paternal grandfather & of the multitude of  "Alexander McDonald"  previously.

The McLachlan-McDonald family was in the Port Stephens area for about ten years.  By the year 1889, they were at Coopernook,  near Taree, NSW, where Andrew McDonald was the bridgekeeper at the Manning River, the contract for which was probably facilitated by part of Jane's portion from her father's estate. Certainly it is known that Andrew McDonald, on his wife's behalf, went on the errand to the Molong area to collect Jane's financial portion of the Daniel McLachlan - "Avondale"  estate.

It was at Coopernook, in the year, 1889,  that the couple's third son & last child was born. He was called Andrew McDonald,  in honour of his father; & it may be anticipated very many of that name combination, before that.

Jane McLachlan continued some of the aspirations of her father. Particularly was she a great believer in the importance of education, to such a degree that Andrew, Jane's last child,  was to become a respected -- "Inspector of Schools"  with the NSW Department of Education during the early decades of the twentieth century; & especially after World War One.

Jane nee McLachlan McDonald also considered that the Presbyterian Protestant form of the Christian religion pointing back to the Scottish Covenanting Movement was the superior form of Christianity --- "salt of the earth" ... variety.  As time went by this zealousness has been being gradually  "watered down"  in this increasingly secular society of late twentieth century & early twenty first century Australia.

Not only was Andrew McDonald, Jane's youngest son, a significant person in the NSW Dept of Education, but so also was Jane's second son,  Duncan Alexander McDonald.  Duncan taught in several of the rural NSW schools of the Day. 

Sons of Jane McLachlan McDonald  - Robert eld  & Andrew
Sons of Jane McLachlan McDonald - Robert eld & Andrew

In his last working years, when he was living at Strathfield a  suburb of Sydney, on the south side of the Harbour, Duncan McDonald was involved with proceedings of the Far West Holiday Education venue, at Manly NSW. (This was & is for children to have a beneficial vacation while being involved with their general school learning education.) These children principally come to the centre from homes situated in the difficult dry dusty & often inhospitable  "far west" area of the state of New South Wales.

These two sons, Duncan Alexander McDonald & Andrew McDonald were most worthwhile persons of the then fledgling NSW Department of Education. The eldest son, Robert, became a successful hotel keeper, widely recognized for his geniality & capability. 

Robert McDonald  "ran" hotels in far south western locations such as Jerilderie;  but also Robertson in the Kangaroo Valley of the Southern Highlands. There was a very strong brotherhood bond between Robert & his youngest brother, Andrew McDonald that continued throughout their lives.

The only daughter, Jean,  was a most attractive, slim & most dignified young lady, whom her mother had brought up as a lady of virtuous character, & married a very successful & most generous & humanitarian gentleman, by name, Dick (Richard Edward) Blackwell.  Jean was to be her mother's most caring, efficient & ever-obedient   "servant"   as her mother grew older .

Nevertheless, it was her sons, & especially Duncan McDonald,  that Jane nee McLachlan McDonald, seemed to prefer.  Such were the ways of the times... male children represented success & status in society.

Jane's daughter, Jean McDonald, had married Dick Blackwell in 1899. The marriage was registered at Marrickville, a suburb of Sydney. Their three children, Richard Keith, Jean Evelyn (known as Evelyn) & Colin Bruce Blackwell were born in 1901, 1906 & 1912 respectively, all in the area of Sydney NSW. 

Jane's eldest son, Robert McDonald,  had married Minnie Brown in 1901, at Haymarket,  an inner suburb of Sydney.  Their first daughter, Minnie Doris  (known as Dorothy & often abbreviated to "Dot"),  was born in 1902, in Sydney.

Their twin daughters, Flora Jean & Rose Kathleen in 1905,  were born in the south western rural  town, Murrumburrah.  A son, Roy,  was born to the couple in 1907 but he died almost immediately.  Sadly also,  the twin daughters, Flora & Rose, each died of tuberculosis, in 1914 & 1919 respectively. Minnie nee Brown McDonald died of tuberculosis, in 1909, at Goulburn, a south west rural town of NSW. 

Robert married for the second time,  to Hilda Drayton in 1911. The marriage was registered at Redfern,  an inner suburb of Sydney. There was to be no offspring from this union.

The second son, Duncan Alexander McDonald, had married Deborah  Eliza Collett, at the southern rural town of Queanbeyan, New South Wales, in 1905. The meeting of Duncan & Deborah had happened while Duncan was a teacher in the Queanbeyan district.  They had four daughters,  Dorothy R. J. ,  Thelma E.P.,  Muriel L.M. & Joyce N. M. McDonald,  also one son, Kevin Alexander McDonald. These were all born prior to the demise of Jane nee McLachlan McDonald in 1933.

Although Jane's third son, Andrew,  would marry in 1936,  & have two bonny daughters,  this did not occur until some years after Jane's death.

His wife- to- be would be Iris May Gunning. Their daughters would be  called Janet Oldham McDonald born 1936 & Evelyn Manning McDonald, born 1939.

After the death of her husband,  in 1910 at Coopernook near Taree NSW, Jane nee McLachlan McDonald took turns at living with her daughter, Jean nee McDonald Blackwell, in the Sydney area; or her eldest son, Robert McDonald, firstly in country areas such as - Jerilderie, in the south west rural region; & Robertson in the Southern Highlands area of  New South Wales.

In 1916  Jane's son,  Andrew McDonald,  enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force during World War One.  Jane nee McLachlan McDonald,  Andrew's mother, was mentioned on his military papers as his  "next-of-kin".  Andrew McDonald served in France as a gunner. He arrived back in Australia safely in the year, 1919.

In the later years of her life, Jane nee McLachlan McDonald, was living in the harbour suburbs of Sydney such as Manly.  Her daughter, Jean Blackwell, her husband & family, as well as Robert McDonald, his wife & daughter, Dot, were also in this vicinity. 

Because Jane was living with one or other of these families, she was able to sustain a strong sisterly association with several of her siblings  particularly Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant.  During these years of her life,  especially during the time after 1923,  when Elizabeth had gone to live with her eldest daughter, Agnes nee Gant Davis, at Willoughby,  Jane & Elizabeth were able to meet. 

At these meetings the McLachlan sisters were able to discuss the issues of the day including the life events of their families as well as these of their extended families.  Amongst the news that Jane was able to impart were the marriages of four of her grandchildren.

Firstly there ws the marriage of Richard Keith Blackwell to Pearl Iolanthe Bowering in 1922. The couple had two sons, Richard in 1924 & Neil in 1926.  Some time after, Richard separated from his wife, Pearl, later marrying Jean Florence Popple.

youngest son of Jane McLachlan McDonald -  Andrew  - off to WW1 - 1917
Youngest son of Jane McLachlan McDonald - Andrew - off to WW1 - 1917

Three of Jane's granddaughters were to marry prior to her demise. The first of the granddaughters to marry was the eldest offspring of Duncan & Deborah McDonald, that is - Dorothy R. J. McDonald. She married Peter Wills at Cowra NSW in 1924.

It was Robert McDonald's daughter, who was the second granddaughter to marry. Minnie Doris (known as Dorothy May) McDonald married David Kevan at Jerilderie NSW in 1926. Dot had a baby daughter, Ann, in 1930. Some time later, however, Dot & David separated. Dot took her little daughter, Ann, & went to live with her father, Robert McDonald, (by this time a respected, retired gentleman) & his wife, in Manly, a harbour side suburb of Sydney.

Duncan's second daughter, Thelma E.P. McDonald,  married Cecil Brackenreg in 1930. This marriage was registered at Burwood, a suburb of Sydney. Thelma & Cecil Brackenreg had a son, James, but the couple  separated soon after the birth of James.  Some time later, Thelma married John Christie, who was to give his surname to Thelma's son James.  

Jane nee McLachlan McDonald lived a very long, healthy & constructive life, dying in the St  Ronan's Private Hospital in the suburb of Manly, NSW, on the 2nd  September, 1933.  Jane was last seen by the registered medical attendant,  R.B. Minnett,  on the 1st September, 1933, when she was in a coma following a bout of pneumonia. 

On the 4th September, 1933, Jane nee McLachlan McDonald was cremated at the Rookwood cemetery after a ceremony conducted by A.M. Stevenson,  according to the rites of the Presbyterian religion.   The registration of her death was done on the 4th September 1933,  by her youngest son, Andrew McDonald. At that time, Andrew's work base was  at the Public School of Pallamallawa, near the Queensland & New South Wales borders.

With Jane's passing there were remaining only three of the offspring of Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson. They were the three youngest - Duncan McPherson McLachlan, John Angus McLachlan & the youngest sister as well as sibling, Agnes nee McLachlan George. 

Researched, compiled & written by -

Alison Elizabeth McLachlan-Crowe
for the  "McLachlan of Avondale" Descendants' Reunion,
held @ Bathurst NSW Australia, on Saturday 17 May 2003


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