Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 10

Career op Hugh Macdonell (Aberchalder), M.P. for First Riding of Glengarry in First Parliament of Upper Canada.—Testimony of Colonel Mathews, Military Secretary to Lord Dorchester, as to Services of Himself and his Family.—First Adjutant-General of Militia Upper Canada.—Appointed Consul-General at Algiers.—Duke of Kent's Tribute to his Memory.— His Family.—His Brother, Colonel Chichester Macdonell, Another U. E. Loyalist Officer.—Alexander Macdonell (Collachie), M.P. for Glengarry and Speaker House of Assembly, 1804.—His Services in Revolutionary War and War of 1812.

Another of the Highland Loyalist Officers who settled in Glengarry at the close of the Revolutionary War, represented the County in Parliament, achieved considerable distinction in the Province, and afterwards rose to high position in a far distant part of the world, was Hugh Macdonell, a brother of Colonel John Macdonell of Aberchalder. This gentleman commanded a company in his brother's Regiment (Royal Canadian Volunteers) on its first establishment, and afterwards was transferred to the Second Battalion, and in which he was at once the Senior Captain. In 1803 he was Lieutenant Colonel of the Glengarry Militia Regiment, of which his elder brother was Colonel. He was appointed by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe to be the first Adjutant-General of Militia in Upper Canada, and was the founder of our Militia system. He sat as one of the members for Glengarry in the first Legislature of the Province. On the 18th September, 1792, the day following the opening of the first session, the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne having been adopted, it was "ordered that Mr. Smith and Mr. Hugh Macdonell do Wait on His Excellency to know when His Excellency Will be pleased to receive the House with the said Address."

In the debate on the Dual language question, in 1890, reported in Hansard, vol. 1, p. 894, Sir John Macdonald-quoted an order of the House of 3rd of July, 1793, on a motion made by Mr. Macdonell as follows:—"Ordered that such Acts as have already passed, or may hereafter pass the Legislature of the Province, be translated into the French language for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Western District of this Province and other French settlers who may come to reside within the Province, and that A. Macdonell, Clerk of this House, be employed for this and other purposes."

The meagre records, even where any exist at all, of the proceedings of the earlier Legislatures do not enable us to ascertain what particular part any individual member took in parliamentary life in those days. This gentleman, however, did not remain very long in Parliament or in the Province. Letters in my possession at present show him to have enjoyed the friendship and patronage of the Duke of Kent, and he appears to have merited it.

Of the services of himself and family (Aberchalder) and the clansmen of Glengarry during the Revolutionary War, Colonel Mathews, Military Secretary to Lord Dorchester, who was in a better position to speak authoritatively than any other man, wrote as follows to the Under Secretary of State for War, when Capt. Macdonell, after leaving Canada, laid his claim for continued employment in the service before the British Government:—

"Chelsea College, 23rd June, 1804,

"Dear Sir,

"Understanding that Captain Hugh Macdonell. late of the Royal Canadian Volunteers, has been particularly recommended to the Earl of Camden, and that he will consequently have the honour to wait upon you, I cannot, with the intimate knowledge I possess of his own and the meritorious services and sufferings of his family, forbear of taking the liberty of troubling you with a few lines, in the hope of interesting you in his favour.

"His father and uncle, respectable men in the Highlands of Scotland, left that country with their families and considerable property, a few years before the Rebellion in America, with a view to establish themselves in that country, having for that purpose carried out a number of their dependents. They obtained a valuable grant of land from Sir John Johnson on the Mohawk River, in the settlement of which they had made considerable progress.

"When the Rebellion broke out they were the first to fly to arms on the part of Government, in which they and their adherents, not less than two hundred men, took a most active and decided lead, leaving their families and property at the mercy of the rebels.

"I was at that time quartered at Niagara, and an eye-witness of the gallant and successful exertions of the Macdonell's and their dependents, by which, in a great measure, the Upper Country of Canada was preserved, for on this little body a very fine battalion was soon formed, and afterwards a second.

"Captain Macdonell's father and uncle, at that time advanced in years, had companies in that Corps and in which his elder brother, afterwards an active and distinguished partisan, carried arms. The sons of both families, five or six in number, the moment they could bear arms, followed the bright example of their fathers, and soon became active and useful officers in that and another corps of Rangers, whose strength and services greatly contributed to unite the Indians of the Five Nations in the interest of Government, and thereby decidedly to save the Upper Country of Canada and our Indian trade.

"These Corps were reduced on the peace in 1783, and were settled in Upper Canada on grants of land from Government, where Captain Macdonell's father and uncle died a few years after with a total loss of all their property and the-means of assisting their families.

Captain Macdonell afterwards held a company in the Canadian Volunteers, of which his elder brother, before mentioned, was Colonel but that also being disbanded, and he not having rank in the army, he is literally left destitute after a service of twenty-six years—for I countersigned his commission as Lieutenant twenty three years ago. Thus a valuable officer is lost to himself and to the service, whose abilities either in a civil or a military capacity, particularly in Canada, where his knowledge of the French language, the customs and manners of the people, and of the interests of the Indian nation, might be turned to good account, while the services and sufferings of very deserving officer would be rewarded.

"I have the honour to be, dear sir,

"Your very obedient and humble servant,

"R Mathews.

"Edward Cooke, Esq."

Such statements emanating from one who had so long been on the staff of Sir Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) constitute high praise indeed, and are indisputable proof of the loyalty and merit of the Glengarry men. Colonel Mathews and that eminent essayist, Mr. George Sandfield Macdonald, do not appear to agree, but I venture to suggest that the former is probably the better authority of the two as regards the United Empire Loyalists. Psychological and sociological research and disquisition is evidently Mr George Sand held Macdonald's forte. He had better follow John Richard Green in that field, and leave the "humble and ignorant" Highlanders alone or confine himself to "individuals of distinction." The descendants of "the people" will preserve the memories and deeds of their own forbears and write their history.

Lord Camden, then Colonial Secretary, writing to Lieutenant-Governor Hunter, under date Downing Street, 2nd August, 1804, states : * * *  a very favourable representation having been made to me by General Simcoe of the merits and services of Captain Hugh Macdonell, who was formerly appointed Adjutant-General of the Militia Forces in Upper Canada, and who appears to have received, up to the 1st June, 1795, only, the pay intended to have been allowed to him, I am to authorize you to issue to him or his agent from the date above specified until your arrival in Canada in 1799, when his services as Adjutant-General appear to have been regularly dispensed with, an allowance at the rate of five shillings per day."

After the close of the Revolutionary War, and previous to the raising of the R. C. V., Mr. Macdonell was Surveyor of the Eastern District of Upper Canada, and surveyed, I believe, the greater portion of it. including the County of Glengarry. After his death, his widow prepared a statement of his services in Canada, from which I take the following extract:—

"It was universally known that the settlement of Upper Canada was originally a matter resorted to on the cessation of the hostilities with the United States, consequent on the extensive reduction in the army which took place on that event, the Government granting portions of land proportioned to respective grades on which occasion Mr. Macdonell was allotted five hundred acres as a reduced Lieutenant on half-pay. Subsequently a more liberal allowance was extended to the officers, by which he became entitled to one thousand five hundred acres more, which grant, from inadvertence, was deferred and finally was never located, although he was Surveyor to the Eastern District of the Province, and in virtue of which the duty of the assignment of land to those entitled devolved upon him.

The Government under the anxious desire of conciliating the the (Lower) Canadian gentry. to their rather recent condition of British subjects, authorized Lord Dorchester, the Governor and Captain-General of the Canadas, to raise a certain force as an expedient, his Lordship committed this service to Mr. Macdonell's elder brother, the officers being selected from half-pay native Canadians. Two Battalions were within a reasonable time embodied, in one of which Mr. Macdonell was Senior Captain. This levy, destined for the service and security of the Canadas and other colonial possessions in British North America, volunteered to extend their services to any quarter where they might be deemed to be most available, and had existed for a period of about eight years, until the measure of the Treaty of Amiens was compassed, when this force, which was always considered to be intended to be permanent, was, to the astonishment of all and indignation of many, included in the reduction of the army which followed that event, without conferring rank, half-pay on any remuneration whatsoever on the unfortunate officers, by which narrow policy and unlucky parsimony the case that was meant to be propitiated became on the contrary more deeply aggrevated.

Having abandoned the pursuits and occupations that he held previously to joining the lately-reduced Corps, considering them to be incompatible with his new position, he parted with a valuable water mill property to satisfy a considerable claim upon him in consequence of having become security for an individual who failed in his engagements. In short, he parted with whatever property he might have remained possessed of, and determined to move from a country where his lot had been so singularly uuprosperous, and with what he considered his incontestable claim for employment, he repaired to London. He was about to be satisfied with a lieutenancy in the Fusiliers when the extreme benignity of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent saved him from the mortification of having again to enter the army in the grade of subaltern by obtaining for him the appointment of Assistant Commissary General within his own government (Gibraltar). He continued in this department till he was, still through the protection of his Royal benefactor, called upon to repair to Algiers.

"I have entered into a tedious detail of matters persona, to my late husband solely to establish that his absence from Canada while engaged in the public service ought not surely to be considered prejudicial to any claims he might have pending in that country.

"I might further add, without grounding any pretensions on it, that Mr. Macdonell had a younger brother, Lieut.Col. Chichester Macdonell, who died in India while in command of the 54th Regiment, who was entitled to an equal grant of land with himself, and which he firmly believed was never located—if any part, certain!/ not to the extent of the second allotment. Further, to obviate a doubt that might arise respecting the perfect authenticity of my children's claims I have to state that Mr. Macdonell was a Member for the first Riding of the County of Glengarry of the first House of Assembly of which his elder brother was Speaker and that he was appointed by General Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, to the post of Adjutant-General of the Militia Station, to which from relative circumstances he attached some moment, the number of troops assigned for the service of Upper Canada being necessarily limited."

Captain Hugh Macdonell's subsequent career is so interesting and so well worth recording that I venture shortly to digress with that object.

Colonel Playfair, H. M. Consul-General at Algiers, in his annals of British relations with Algiers, entitled "The Scourge of Cbristendom" states that Mr. Macdonell began his career in 1778 as an Ensign in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, and that he rose to be Adjutant-General of the Province of Upper Canada; that in 1805 he was appointed Assistant Commissary-General at Gibraltar. In 1810 he with Lord Cochrane, K. B., and Captain Harding, R. E., was sent to Algiers to inspect and report upon La Calle, and in 1811 Mr. Macdonell, under the patronage of the Duke of Kent, was sent as Consul-General to Algiers, where it the hands of the infamous Dey he suffered the greatest hardships and privations the lives of himself and his family being in almost constant jeopardy, and he not infrequently imprisoned. It was necessary for Lord Exmouth, then in command of the Mediterranean fleet, to bombard Algiers in order to procure his release in August, 1816. Having effected his purpose and before resigning his command, Lord Exmoulh publicly thanked Mr. Macdonell as follows :—

"I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of offering you my public thanks for the assistance I have received from your activity and intelligence in my late negotiations with, the Regency of Algiers, and more especially for the manly firmness you have displayed throughout all the violence and embarassments occasioned by the late discussions, of which it will afford me sincere pleasure to bear testimony to His Majesty's Ministers on my return to England."

The plague, which had broken out in 1817, spread rapidly throughout the country. The Dey continued to send out plague-stricken cruisers against vessels of Prussia and the Hanse Town especially, but they visited those of every other nation and thus spread the contagion all over the Mediterranean. He had a fiendish delight in thus propagating the fell disease, and he even on one occasion attempted the life of Mr. Macdonell by causing a wretch who had it to cast a cloak on the Consul's shoulders. Retribution however, speedily overtook him, and he died of it himself on March 1, 1818.

His successor, Hussein bin Hassan, took immediate steps to hasten the equipment of Algerine cruisers but he yielded to the representations of the British Government that they should not be sent forth during the continuance of the plague. The average number of deaths from the plague was fifty daily. It was computed that 16,000 souls had died of it in Algiers, while Constantina, Bona and Blidah were almost depopulated.

Mr. Macdonell continued as Consul at Algiers until 1820, when he was pensioned by the British Government.

Colonel Playfair states of Mr. Macdonell: "For many years he had rendered excellent service to the state. The Duke of Kent always entertained the highest opinion of his character and abilities, and maintained a constant personal correspondence with him." A letter written by Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey contains a most flattering testimony of his worth: His Royal Highness has always understood from those who have had occasion to be acquainted with his proceedings at Algiers that his conduct has invariably met with the highest approbation of Government for the judgment and firmness he has evinced in the most trying moments, a circumstance peculiarly gratifying to the Duke, who reflects with pleasure upon his being the first who brought him forward."

Alter Mr. Macdonell's death, his widow (his second wife,' who was a daughter of Admiral Uirich, Danish Consul-General at Algiers) married the Duke de Talleyrand-Perigord, and died at Florence in 1870 at a very advanced age.

Mr. Macdonell's two sons—General Sir Alexander Macdonell, K.C.B., Colonel-Commandant of the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade, and Mr. Hugh Guion Macdonell, C.B., C.M.G., Her Majesty's Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy-Extraordinary to the King of Denmark—still survive. It is gratifying to find that the sons of a gentleman who first represented the County of Glengarry in Parliament have risen to the highest preferment in the military and diplomatic services. Hart's Army List gives Sir Alexander Macdonell's distinguished career as follows :—

"Second lieutenant, 23 June, 1837, Lieutenant. May 11, 1841 Captain, 24 October 1845; Brevet Major, 12 December, 1854, Major, 22 December, 1854; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 17 July 1855; Lieutenant-Colonel, 1 June, 1857; Colonel, 20 July, 1858; Major-General, 6 March, 1868; Lieutenant-General. 1 October, 1877; General, 1 April, 1882; Colonel Commandant Rifle Brigade, 14 January, 1886. &

"Served with the Rifle Brigade in the Kaffir War of 1846-7 medal; also . throughout the Eastern Campaign of 1854 as Aide-de-Camp to Sir George Brown, and present at the affair of Bulganac capture or Bahklava and Battles of Alma and Inkernu; Commanded the 2nd Battalion from May, 1855, to the Fall of Sebastopol including the defence of the Quarries on 7 June and assaults of the Redan on 18 June and 8 Sept. [medal with three clasps, brevet of Major and lieutenant-Colonel, t.S., Knight of the Legion of Honour Safsmran and Turkish medals, and 5th class of the Medjidie]

"Commanded the 3rd Battalion during the Indian Mutiny, in eluding the Skirmish of Secundra, Siege and Capture of I.ucknow and subsequent operations [brevet of Colonel, medal with clasp]. Also served in the campaign on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1864 [medal].

"Commanded the Expedition against the Mohmund tribes in 1863-4 [medal with clasp].

In this Regiment (the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade), in which Sir Alexander Macdonell is now Colonel-Commandant, and of which His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, K.G., is Colonel-in-Chief—another officer, a native of this country, and son of a gentleman whose name will ever be held in grateful remembrance by all Canadians, has attained high rank. I refer to Colonel C. W. Robinson, C. B., now Assistant Military Secretary at the Horse Guards. Colonel Robinson is the youngest son of the late Sir John Beverley Robinson, Bart., for many years the eminent Chief-Justice of Upper Canada, and a brother of the Honourable John Beverley Robinson, recently Lieutenant-Governor of this Province. This is not the first time these names have been associated; both gentlemen are descendants of Loyalist officers of the Revolutionary War, Sir Alexander Macdonell, as we have seen, being a son of an officer in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, and Colonel Robinson the grandson of Chistopher Robinson, who was an Ensign in the Queen's Rangers in the same War, and both of whom held seats in the earlier Parliaments of Upper Canada.

Again, Mr (afterwards Sir John) Robinson, at the time a student m the office of Colonel John Macdonell (Greenfield), who was then Attorney-General of Upper Canada, was a Lieutenant in the York Volunteers, and present with Colonel Macdonell at the Capture of Detroit and the Battle of Queenston Heights, where Sir Isaac Brock and Colonel Macdonell fell, and he was one of the pall-hearers of the latter when the remains of General Brock and his Aide de-Camp were interred after the dearly-bought victory then achieved. It is a somewhat strange fact that the present Sir Alexander Macdonell should be a first cousin of the then member for Glengarry, Colonel Macdonell, who was killed seventy-seven long years ago, "while gallantly charging up the hill with the hereditary courage of his race," as Sir Isaac Brock's biographer states of him, Wounded four places, and with a bullet having passed completely through his body."

Perhaps here I may mention that Mr. John Beverley Robinson, the recent Lieutenant-Governor, was one of nose who strongly urged me to attempt the task I have now undertaken, of writing a sketch of the early history of our County on the ground, as he wrote me, that "the history of Glengarry is a proud record of most valuable services rendered to the country in early times, when the men of that County made its name famous in War and Peace."

The youngest son of Mr. Hugh Macdonell, M. P. for Glengarry, Mr. Hugh Guion Macdonell, at the age of 16, also obtained a commission in the same distinguished Regiment as his brother, the Rifle Brigade, and served on the Cape Frontier, where he contracted a severe rheumatic fever, which precluded him from joining his Regiment in the Crimea. He was then obliged to enter the diplomatic service, in which his career has been as follows :—

"Was appointed attache at Florence, February 8, 1854; passed an examination for a paid attachment, October 27, 1858; was appointed paid attache at Washington, November 23, 1858 ; it Constantinople, December 13, 1858 fourth paid attache there, December 31, 1859, and third paid attache, November 24, 1869. Was appointed a second secretary, October 1, 1862; was transferred to Rio de Janeiro, August 10. 1865 (but did not proceed thither), and to Copenhagen, July 24,1866. Was promoted to be Secretary of Legation at Buenos Ayres, April 9, 1869, where he was Acting Charge d'Affaires from December 12, 1869,.till December 15, 1872. Was transferred to Madrid, October 26, 1872, where he was Acting Charge d'Affaires from June 26 to October 6, 1873, and from June 24 till September 25, 1874. Was promoted to be Secretary of Embassy at Berlin, January 15, 1875, where he was Acting Charge d'Affaires from August 4 till September 13, 1875; from June 26 till July 15, 1876; from August 4 till September 4, 1876; from May 3 till July 3, 1877; and from September 26 till November 24, 1877. Was transferred to Rome, May 6, 1878, where he was Acting Charge d'Affaires from July 7 till October 29, 1878;  from August 23 Jill September 27, 1879; from July 19 till October 23, 1880; from April 23 till May 2, 1881 : and from Jjuly 28 till September 28, 1881. Was promoted to be Charge dAffaires at Munich, February 23, 1882, and to be Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Emperor of Brazil, November 5, 1885. Transferred in the same capacity to the King of Denmark, February in 1839."

The daughters of Mr. Hugh Macdonell (the member for Glengarry) were married to Mr. Holstein, who succeeded Admiral Ulrich as Danish Consul-General at Algiers ; General Sir Robert Wynyard, Military-Governor of the Cape of Good Hope ; General Sir George Brown, who commanded the Light Division in the Crimea War, and was Adjutant-General of the Forces; Captain Buck, Royal Navy; Viscount Aquado; Captain Cumberland, Forty-Second Royal Highlanders ; and Don Augusto Conte, late Spanish Ambassador in Vienna. Another daughter was a religieuse of the Order of the Sacred Heart.

A brother of Colonel John Macdonell and Mr. Hugh Macdonell was Lieutenant-Colonel Chichester Macdonell, who also was a Loyalist Officer in the Revolutionary War, having commenced his military career as a Second Lieutenant in Butler's Rangers. He did not remain in Canada on the conclusion of that War, but continued in the service and became successively Lieutenant-Colonel of the Eighty-Second and Thirty Fourth Regiments of Foot. He served under Sir John Moore at Corunna and died on service in India. After his death, a medal having been struck for Corunna, a gold medal was transmitted to his family by direction of the Prince Regent to be deposited with them "as a token of the respect which His Royal Highness entertained for the memory of that officer." Mr. Hugh Macdonell, the British Minister at Copenhagen, had the kindness and courtesy to send me the original letter from H. R. H. the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief, enclosing his uncle's medal. It is a coincidence that it should be from the same illustrious personage as another in my possession forwarding another gold medal (to my grandfather) for the Capture of Detroit, to be deposited with his family, "as a token of the respect which His Majesty entertained for the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, who was killed with Brock at Queenston Heights, and who was a nephew of Colonel Chichester. Still another of their relatives, Sir James Macdonell, Glengarry's Brother, "the stalwart and indomitable defender of Hougoumont," "the bravest man in Britain," had another of these hard-earned but glorious tokens of the Sovereign's approbation and their country's gratitude, while Colonel George Macdonell, of the Glengarry Fencibles, another relative and clansman, was awarded one of the two gold medals given for Chateauguay, de Salaberry getting the other.

A sister of the foregoing gentlemen had been marred in Scotland to Alexander Macdonell of Greenfield before either of the families came to this country, and was the mother of Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan Macdonell of Greenfield, Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, and Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Greenfield Macdonell—the two latter of whom both afterwards represented the County of Glengarry in Parliament, and all of whom, together with their father and relatives innumerable, did their fair share of fighting in perilous times not far distant. Another sister was married to Captain (afterwards General) Wilkinson, and a third to Captain (afterwards General) Ross, and brother of Field Marshal Ross.

Still another of the Loyalist officers who represented the County-was Alexander Macdonell (Collachie). This gentleman was born at Fort Augustus, in Glengarry, Scotland, in 1762, and was a son of Mr. Allan Macdonell, whose name is appended with that of Sir John Johnson to the various negotiations with the American General Schuyler before hostilities actually took place in the ill-fated Valley of the Mohawk in 1776, and who appears to have been commissioned to speak more particularly on behalf of the Scotch inhabitants of that district. His father was one of the six prisoners taken by General Schuyler on the 19th January of that year, together with two of his nephews, it being previously agreed that "all due deference should he paid to their rank, and that being gentlemen they should be permitted to wear their side arms." They were sent to Lancaster in Pennsylvania, and were detained during the greater portion of the continuance of hostilities. Mr. Alexander Macdonell's mother was a daughter of the Chief of MacNab, and, like most of the Scotch women of that day, made of good stuff. She, too, was eventually taken prisoner, as was Lady Johnson. From her place of captivity at Schenectady, whither she was taken with her two daughters, she wrote to her son on learning that he had, though too young for a commission, joined her Sovereign's forces as a volunteer, exhorting him to be brave and "never to forget that all the blood in his veins was that of a Highland gentleman"—much the same sentiment as was in Fraser's mind when he wrote:

Fight as your fathers fought,
Fall as your fathers fell;
Thy task's taught; thy shroud is wrought—
So, Forward and Farewell!

Mrs. Macdonel1 managed to effect her escape from her place of imprisonment in 1780, and made her way to New York, which was then in possession of the British forces.

An interesting letter of hers, written before she was taken prisoner and when, her husband being prisoner of war, she appears to have been left in charge of the settlement and such of the men as had not already accompanied Sir John Johnson to Canada, is given in a book lately published at Albany, "The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson"

"Collachie, 15th March, 1777.


"Some time ago I wrote you a letter much to this purpose concerning the inhabitants of this bush being made prisoners. There was no such thing then in agitation as you were pleased to observe in your letter to me that morning. Mr. Billie Laird came among the people to give them warning to go in to sign and swear. To this they will never consent, being already prisoners of General Schuyler. His Excellency was pleased by your proclamation directing every one of them to return to their farms, and that they should be no more troubled nor molested during the war. To this they agreed, and have not done anything against the country, nor intend to if left alone. If not, they will lose their lives before being taken prisoners again. They begged of me the favour to write to Major Fonda and the gentlemen of the committee to this purpose. They blame neither the one nor the other of you gentlemen, but those ill-natured fellows amongst them that got up an excitement about nothing in order to igratiate themselves in your favour They were of very great hurt to your cause since May last, through violence and ignorance. I do not know what the cause would have been to them long ago if not prevented. Only think what daily provocation does! Jenny joins me in compliments to Mrs. Fonda.

"I am, sir,

"Your humble servant,

"Helen Macdonell."

Mr. Alexander Macdonell served as a cadet under Sir John Johnson at the Attack upon Fort Schuyler, the Battle of Oriskany and in most of the severe skirmishes which took place in the Valley of the Mohawk in 1777. In 1778, being then sixteen years of age, he was appointed to an ensigncy in the Second Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment (.Eighty-Fourth), and was present at the Battle of Monmouth, and served under General Clinton at Philadelphia until that city was evacuated by the British forces, who retired to New York. Mr. Macdonell there received his Lieutenancy. He was made the bearer of despatches from Sir Henry Clinton to General Haldimand, commanding in Canada. From New York he proceeded to Rhode Island, thence making his way via Lakes George and Champlain to Canada, principally on foot. Shortly after his arrival, he was transferred to Butler's Rangers, with which he remained on active service until the close of the War, when he was placed on half-pay. When General Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1792, he appointed Mr Macdonell—who had been favourably known to him during his service in the army—Sheriff of the Home District, which included the present Counties of Northumberland, Durham, Ontario, York, Halton, Peel, Simcoe and others. Upon the removal of the seat of Government from Newark to York in 1797, he went to reside in the latter place, and continued to be Sheriff of the Home District until 1805. From 1805; to 1812 Mr. Macdonell acted as agent for Lord Selkirk in superintending his settlement at Baldoon in the Western District. This settlement was formed by Lord Selkirk subsequent to a similar one he had formed in Prince Edward Island for the purpose of benefitting his Highland fellow-countrymen.

Mr. Macdonell represented the County of Glengarry in several of the earlier Parliaments, and in 1804 was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Province.

When war was declared m 1812, he hastened to return to Canada from London, whither he had gone on private affairs, was gazetted Colonel of Militia and appointed Assistant Paymaster-General to the Militia force.

At the Capture of Niagara by the Americans on May 26, 1813, he was made prisoner of war, and sent to Lancaster in Pennsylvania, where he was detained until the close of the War. It happened, singularly enough, that he was then imprisoned in the same place in the same town in which his father (who in early life had fought with Prince Charlie at Culloden) had previously been kept prisoner in consequence of his stern loyalty to the British Crown in the Revolutionary War of 1776, so that this family had their fair share of sufferings and hardships.

On the conclusion of the War, and the consequent disbandment of the various Regiments, many of the men entitled to land were settled by the Government on the waste lands of the Crown throughout the Province, and especially in the neighbourhood of Perth, and Mr. Macdonell was appointed Superintendent of the settlement.

The officers of the Department for Settlers in Upper Canada were as follows :—

Superintendent—Alexander Macdonell. Esquire.
Deputy Superintendent—D. McGregor Rogers.
Secretary- and Store-keeper—Daniel Duverne.

Officers in charge—Captain Richard Bullock, senior ; Lieutenant Angus Macdonell,1 Lieutenant Mclver. Surgeon—John Caldwell.

Subsequently in 1816 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Indian Department, on accepting which, it being an Imperial appointment, he forfeited his half-pay which he had received since the disbandment of Butler's Rangers.

The Honourable Alexander Macdonell was subsequently for many years a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and died in Toronto on 14th March, 1842, full of years and the esteem of all good men.

The people of Glengarry can thus point with some degree of pride to the services rendered to, and the sacrifices made for the country by this gentleman, whom their fathers deservedly entrusted with the representation of their franchises when representative government was in its infancy in this Province.

Of his brothers, Angus Macdonell, also of course a Highland Loyalist, was the first Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in 1792, and was one of the earliest barristers of Upper Canada, and Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada from 1801 to 1804. He was Member for Durham, Simcoe and the East Riding of York in the Legislature. He was drowned, with Judge Cochrane, the Solicitor-General, Robert Isaac Dey Gray and all other passengers on the vessel "Speedy," on October 7th, 1804.

The youngest brother, James Macdonell, was a Captain in the Forty-Third Light Infantry, who died while on service in the West Indies. He, with others of the Highland Loyalist officers, was honoured with the patronage of the Duke of Kent. Writing to his brother, from Montreal, 5th May, 1795, he states: "I am now just readie to quit this place for Quebec, on my way to the regiment. The number of people His Royal Highness has lately provided for, and his kind expressions to myself, leave me no room to doubt but he will continue his goodness to me."


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus