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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - Aug/Sep 2004
Piper Angus "The Ridge" MacDonald

Piper Angus "The Ridge" MacDonaldThis 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 patronymics.

      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 MacDonald
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 area.

            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 (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.

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