KERR FAMILY CHRONICLES

© Christopher Earls Brennen

CHAPTER FIVE

THE MACDONALD FAMILY


Area near Killycolpy where the MacDonalds lived.

James McDonald is probably the earliest Macdonald ancestor of whom we have any knowledge at present. He may have been born about 1806. He is listed as a farmer on his son's marriage certificate. The family bible also lists a James McDonald who died on Jun.22, 1875, at the age of 68. The known son of James McDonald:

  1. Alexander McDonnell is primarily known to us as the father of Andrew Thomas McDonnell. In the family bible he is listed as Alexander McDonald of Killicolpy which is about two miles south of Arboe, County Tyrone. On Andrew's marriage certificate the names are spelt McDonnell and Alexander is listed as a farmer. Andrew's place of residence is given as Killycolpy. Since Andrew's marriage took place in 1867, Alexander must have been married for the first time before 1846 and was probably born before 1825. On Jan.6, 1863, the widowed farmer Alexander McDonald from Killycolpy was married in the Parish Church of Arboe to Martha Gourley, a full-aged spinster from Killycolpy whose father was James Gourley, a farmer. It seems likely that this was our Alexander. On the marriage certificate his father is given as James McDonald, a farmer. The known children of Alexander MacDonald:
    1. George MacDonald, son of Alexander and his second wife Martha, was born on Jan.27, 1865.
    2. Eliza Martha MacDonald, daughter of Alexander and his second wife Martha, was born on Jun.3, 1867.
      Andrew and Martha
      MacDonald about 1900.
    3. Andrew Thomas MacDonald, son of Alexander and his first wife, was our ancestor. In the old family bible he is listed as Andrew Thomas McDonald of Tamnavally, son of Alexander McDonald of Kilicolpy. According to family legend, Andrew Thomas was born and grew up in Scotland though this legend almost certainly refers to earlier origins of the family. Under the name of McDonnell rather than MacDonald he married Martha McReynolds on Oct.10, 1867, in the parish church of Arboe. Andrew is listed as of full age, a bachelor and a labourer of Killycolpy whose father, Alexander, was a farmer. Martha is listed as of full age, a spinster of Mullaghglass whose father, Thomas McReynolds, was a farmer. Andrew and Martha assented to marriage by making their marks and the witnesses were W. Thomas Bleak and William Lapsley. Oral history has it that Andrew and Martha emigrated to Glasgow, Scotland. However their first two children, born in 1869 and 1879, were born in the vicinity of Arboe. Their eldest son, Alexander, was born in Mullaghglass where they must have been living at the time. Therefore emigration to Glasgow must have occurred after 1879. There Andrew and Martha had a shop and lived at 44 east John Street, Glasgow. The family bible lists their son James as having been born at that address. Since James was born in 1891 and their daughter Martha was born there about 1884, Andrew Thomas and Martha must have resided in Scotland during that period. Later the family moved to Dalkey near Dublin where they ran a Post Office and shop. An old photograph of Andrew and Martha MacDonald taken when they were in their middle age is included above. Later (about 1900) it seems that Andrew deserted his wife and family perhaps because of a drinking problem. He may have returned to Scotland. Martha accompanied by the younger children including James then moved to a farm in the townland of Tamlaghtmore, Arboe, County Tyrone, which belonged to her family. She lived in the same house in which Samuel Dallas was living in 1970. In the census of 1901, Martha is recorded living in the townland of Killywoolahan (just north of Killycolpy) and working as a domestic. The only other residents of the house are her youngest son James aged 10 and Jane Martin, a 70 year old blind widow. Though the writing is indistinct, the census return seems to indicate that Jane is Martha's mother. If so she must have married a man named Martin in later life.

      Marriage certificate of Andrew Macdonald and Martha McReynolds in 1863.

      The family bible records the death of ``Grandma'' on May 23, 1906, and must refer to Martha's mother since Andrew Thomas's mother seems to have died much earlier. Note that the birth of Martha's second son Andrew in 1879 was attended by Jane Martin. Sadie Kerr remembers that in 1945, a young man named Hugh Martin lived in the back gate lodge of the Drumcairne estate and she thinks that Hugh was some kind of cousin to her father James MacDonald. Incidentally Hugh was murdered by the I.R.A. during the 1980s. Also in the 1901 census, Martha's eldest daughter, Martha the younger, is recorded as living in the household of Robert Henry Norris, a National School Teacher, and his family in nearby Tamlaghtmore. Martha the younger, aged 17, worked there as a domestic servant. In the 1911 Census, 64-year-old widow Martha MacDonald (born in Scotland and Church of Ireland) is recorded living in house #1 in Tamnavally, Killycolpy, Co.Tyrone, with her 19-year-old unmarried son James MacDonald (a agricultural laborer born in Scotland) and a 2-year-old grandson "Maridath" Kerton, born in Co.Dublin. In addition to her own children Martha (the elder) raised this grandson, Meredith Kerton. Martha played the harp, was a great tap dancer and a fine singer. She also loved to read, particularly the Bible and the weekly newspaper, the Christian Herald. She was also a faithful member of Ardtrea Parish Church where she sang in the choir until shortly before her death. Late in life she moved to the townland of Mullaghglass where she died on Dec.4, 1937, according to the family bible. She is buried in the Arboe Church of Ireland graveyard. The children of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds:

      1. Alexander MacDonald, the eldest child, was born in Mullaghglass on May 22, 1869. His father, Andrew Thomas, is listed as a labourer. Known as ``Sandy'', he became a career officer in the Dunedin Highland Light Infantry of the British Army. He was involved in the relief of Ladysmith and fought at the Dardanelles in the First World War. After the refief of Ladysmith he was presented with a box of chocolates by Queen Victoria. That box is still in the possession of Flora Hutchinson though the chocolates are now powder. He married Lucy M.M. Baley of South Africa on Sep.2, 1903; they did not have any children. After the army they emigrated to Sydney, Australia. Sandy was a great Masonic man and, when Lucy died, he lived in a flat owned by the Masonic Lodge. He died and is buried in Sydney.

        Alexander MacDonald about 1914. Andrew Macdonald with sister Martha Carter.

      2. William Macdonald appears to have been forgotten in the present memory of the Macdonald family. However a list with the other children in the family bible records his birth on Feb.25, 1872. It also lists his marriage on Sep.3, 1894, to Helen Young McLeod and the birth of a son:
        1. William Martin McLeod Macdonald was born Aug.4, 1895.

      3. Andrew Macdonald was born in Gortigal, Stewartstown, on July 23, 1879, according to his birth certificate. Gortigal is immediately west of Tamlaghtmore and Dromore. Jane Martin of Mullaghglass was present at the birth. Andrew became the head waiter in the Imperial Hotel in Portadown, Northern Ireland. He married Kathleen (Kitty) ? and had a large family some of whom are listed below. Andrew lived his last years in Belfast, proud of the many boxes of silver cutlery which had been presented to him by employers during the years he was a butler.
        1. Lily Macdonald.
        2. Lucy Macdonald.
        3. Andrew Macdonald lived in London.
        4. Samuel Macdonald became a civil engineer attached to the Admiralty in Portsmouth.
        5. Alexander Macdonald lived in Belfast.
        6. Meredith Macdonald lived in Belfast.

      4. Martha Macdonald (Dolly), the third child, was born about 1883 in Glasgow, Scotland. In the census of 1901, Martha, aged 17, is recorded as living and working as a domestic servant in the household of Robert Henry Norris in Tamlaghtmore, Arboe. Martha married Edmund Carter who was with the Royal Flying Corps. He was stationed in Jerusalem where they lived for a time. They returned to live at Hillingdon Heath near Windsor, England, and Edmund worked as a pilot for the Fairey airplane company. Martha and Edmund had four children:
        1. Victoria Carter married and lived in Welwyn Garden City in London.
        2. Edmund William Carter. born about 1922, joined the Royal Air Force during World War II, and was Flying Officer 55063, Air Bomber 70 Squadron. He was killed in action on Feb.25, 1944, at the age of 22 and is buried in Bari Cemetery, Italy.
        3. Joy Carter died young and is buried in Tooting Cemetery, London.
        4. Donald Carter is married and lives in Wellingborough.

        Lilian and Frank Dunlop about 1918. Gladys Duff and father George Kerton.

      5. Eliza Jane Macdonald, who was always known as Lilian, was born on Aug.18, 1888. In the census of 1901, Lilian, aged 14, is recorded as staying as a visitor with her sister Martha in the household of Robert Henry Norris in Tamlaghtmore, Arboe. Lilian went to London where she worked in the Post Office. There she met a soldier by the name of George Kerton. They had a son who was born in 1909 in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. While in Dublin Lilian stayed at 4 Castle Street, the home of William MacDonald, presumably a relative. The 1901 Dublin Census has William, aged 82, living at that address with his unmarried daughter, Anne MacDonald, aged 52; the 1911 Census has William at the same address though his daughter is not. Later, in London, Lilian met Frank Dunlop and they had no children. She died in London; the family bible refers to the death of ``Lillie'' on Jul.6, 1918 though this probably refers another member of the family. Lilian's son:
        1. George Meredith Kerton was born on Jan.23, 1909, in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and was given his father's last name though the birth certificate entry for his father is blank. Meredith (as he was known) moved to Tyrone at a young age. In the 1911 Census, 2-year-old "Maridath" Kerton, born in Co.Dublin, is listed as living in house #1 in Tamnavally, Killycolpy, Co.Tyrone, with his grandmother Martha MacDonald. Meredith was subsequently raised by his grandmother, Martha MacDonald, in the Stewartstown area and attended the Ballymaguire School in 1915/1919. He became a bus driver and married a Cookstown girl, Gladys Harkness Burns, born Jul.14, 1911. They lived in Liscausy near Cookstown, County Tyrone, where they had five children. George moved the family to Glengormley, County Antrim, in 1939. There they had four more children. George died on Jun.6, 1963, and Gladys on Nov.5, 1979. Their family:
          1. Thomas Meredith Kerton was born in Cookstown about 1932 and married Jean Hamill in Oct. 1962. Tom died in Nov. 2002. They had two children:
            1. Sharon Kerton born in 1966.
            2. Heather Kerton born in 1971.
          2. Donald Kerton was born in Cookstown in 1934. About 1960, he married Rhoda Parkes. Donald is died in 1979 aged 45. Their children:
            1. Debbie Kerton was born in 1962.
            2. Rhonda Kerton was born in 1970.
          3. Victor Leslie Kerton was born in Cookstown and married Norah Palmer in Oct. 1956. They had no children.
          4. Elizabeth Annie Hazlett Kerton was born in Cookstown and married Stanley Dubois in 1960. Their children:
            1. Donna Dubois was born on Feb.20, 1961.
            2. Gail Dubois was born in 1963.
            3. Julie Dubois
            4. Tracey Dubois was born on Oct.10, 1970.
          5. Reginald Kerton was born in Cookstown in 1938 and died as an infant in Glengormley in 1940.
          6. Gladys Kerton was born in Glengormley and married John Mallinson Duff on Mar.25, 1963. They have two children:
            1. Brian George Duff, born on Jun.1, 1965, married Andrea Margaret Thompson on Jul.5, 2000. He is a headmaster in Belfast; Andrea is vice-principal of a different school.
            2. Solveig Patricia Duff, born Mar.13, 1971, became a graphic designer.
          7. George Alexander Kerton was born in Glengormley and married Gwen Sulch in 1970. He worked at the Maze Prison. George died in 1997. George and Gwen had five children:
            1. Paul Kerton
            2. Hayley Kerton
            3. Stewart Kerton
            4. Nicola Kerton
            5. Timothy Kerton
          8. Alva Kerton was born in Glengormley and married Anne ?. They have one child:
            1. Ashleigh Kerton
          9. Valerie Kerton was born in Glengormley and married Tony Ellis. Valerie had a daughter:
            1. Miranda Kerton was born in 1971 and married Scott Mitchell. They have a son, Sam Edward Meredith Mitchell.

        James, Margaret and Sadie
        MacDonald about 1924.

      6. James Macdonald (1891-1975), the fifth child, was Doreen's grandfather, born in 44 east John Street, Glasgow on, Jan.19, 1891. He moved with the family to Dalkey near Dublin and then to a farm in Tamlaghtmore, Arboe, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. In the 1901 census he is recorded as living with his mother and grandmother in the townland of Killywoolahan. In the 1911 Census, James is listed as a 19-year-old unmarried agricultural laborer (born in Scotland) living with his mother in Tamnavally, Killycolpy, Co.Tyrone. James went to school in Arboe. After school he went to England where he lived with his sister and worked as a milkman. In 1915 he returned to Tamlaghtmore and met Margaret Neill. On Nov.1, 1916, he married Margaret Neill in St. Lawrence's, the Derryloran Parish Church, Cookstown. On their marriage certificate both James and Margaret are listed as being of full age, James's occupation is given as a farmer and his place of residence as Tamlaghtmore, Arboe. His father is listed as Andrew Macdonald, a farmer (deceased). Margaret is listed as ``Maggie'', her place of residence as Oldtown, Cookstown, and her father as William Neill, a labourer. Albert Doey and Mary Jordan were witnesses. For a while James and Margaret lived with Martha Macdonald until he got a job as a yardman with Henry's in the village of Moy. They lived in Moy, County Armagh, where their daughter, Sarah, was born. Then, in late 1919, James joined the ``A specials'' or special police force and was stationed in Newtownards, Upper Woodburn, Dungannon and Coalisland, County Tyrone. He is reputed to have been a very fine marksman. Their second daughter, Flora, was born in Coalisland. James completed his service with the ``A specials'' in 1926 and was urged to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary but, by that time, he had had enough of the troubles. Instead he went to work for John Kilpatrick and Son, Coal Merchants, Coalisland and helped the business grow with his efforts in the Arboe and Stewartstown district. His hobbies included gardening and music. He loved animals, especially cats, and had two lovely Pomeranian dogs, Beauty and Bruce. He played the violin, flute and fife and dabbled with the piano and organ. He regularly played his violin at dances around the country, always cycling to whereever he was playing. He loved to tell the story of how, on one such night, he was riding home and lay down by the side of the road for a rest. He must have hung his bicycle on the branch of a tree. When he awoke he forgot about his bicycle and walked home only to discover the next morning that his bike was gone. Then he remembered where he had left it and had to pay the roadmen 5 shillings to get it back again. He did not make any profit from his fee for that dance! On another occasion he was cycling home from playing at a dance in Ballynakelly when he had a serious accident. The violin case caught in the wheel and he was thrown over the handlebars at Hogg's Bridge. He sustained a head injury and several broken bones and was unconcious for nine days in the hospital in Dungannon. He was discharged in July, 1926, but, until the day he died, his walking was affected by the injury to his brain and he was deaf in one ear. This did not, however, deter him from doing anything he wanted to do. When the Second World War broke out, James was determined to join the armed forces and, on Apr.1, 1940, he signed up with the Royal Army Service Corps. He drove a staff car for a Captain Birchill and was stationed at Lavenham during the Battle of Britain. As a result of a an illness he was admitted to Colchester General Hospital. There his deafness was also discovered and he was medically discharged in November, 1941. Early in 1942 he returned to England and went to work in the Ford motor car factory at Dagenham near London. Next Ford moved him to Manchester. Later he came back to the Dungannon area and he and his family lived in a house on Lineside, Coalisland, on the towpath of the canal. From there James cycled to work in the Moygashel linen factory. Indeed he cycled everywhere and only very bad weather would induce him to take the bus to Moygashel. He was a moderate Church of Ireland protestant and used to say of the Irish troubles that the protestants would never learn until it was too late. Nevertheless he was a keen participant in the local Orange Lodge and the British Legion. He had numerous friends, especially amongst the police force with whom he retained a special relationship. In later years James and Margaret moved to a small flat off the Oaks Road in Dungannon and then to a house in Gortin, Coalisland, on the road to Dungannon. At the age of 67, after his retirement from full time employment, James became the first school crossing patrolman in Dungannon and, later, in Coalisland. James and Margaret celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Nov.1, 1966. I recall visiting them in Gortin where family life usually surrounded the old-fashioned coal-burning stove. James enjoyed playing his violin for me. He died at the age of 85 on Mar.8, 1976, and is buried in Brackaville Church of Ireland graveyard. His wife, Margaret, died three months later on Jul.22, 1976, at the age of 81. She is buried beside James and in the same plot as their eldest granddaughter Margaret (nos. 159 and 160) just by the southwest corner of Brackaville Parish Church.

        Marriage certificate of James Macdonald and Margaret Neill.

        Sadie and Flora MacDonald. Jamie Haughton & Flora MacDonald.

        The children of James MacDonald and Margaret Neill:

        1. Sarah Macdonald (Sadie), the first child, was born on Aug.12, 1918, in Charlemont, Co.Armagh while James was working as a yardman in Henry's of Moy. She attended school in Moy and in Coalisland, Co.Tyrone. Leaving school at the age of 16 she was employed to look after the children of the Miller family in Benburb. Later she looked after a child, John Lee, for the Lee family in Dungannon. She met Samuel Edward Kerr at a dance in Coalisland. They were married in the Brackaville Parish Church (Church of Ireland) in Coalisland. Her story continues in Chapter 4.

        2. Martha Jane Macdonald or ``Flora'' as she was always known was the second child, born on Oct.23, 1926, in Lineside, Coalisland where James was working for John Kilpatrick and Sons. She attended Coalisland Primary School and Dungannon Technical College obtaining certificates in Business Studies. After graduation she was employed as a cashier in The Castle Cafe in Dungannon where she worked for four years before becoming, in 1948, a dental nurse and receptionist with T.E.Alexander, a local dentist in Dungannon. On Sep.29, 1953, Flora married William Robert Valentine Hutchinson of Ardcumbra, Cookstown, who was known as Val. At the time Val was employed with Northern Ireland Railways. In 1966, he became an Education Welfare Officer with the Tyrone County Education Committee where he worked the rest of his life. Until 1967, Val and Flora lived at 3 Gortin Park, Coalisland; in that year they moved to a new bungalow at Ardcumber, just south of Cookstown. Val was a keen member of the ``B Specials'', the reserve police force in Northern Ireland. He frequently kept a number of weapons such as a machine-gun in his home. He was well practiced with these weapons and was a great shot in target shooting. He also loved music. He was a tenor drummer and the secretary and playing member of the Tullylagan pipe band. He was also Chairman of the Mid-Ulster section of the Scottish Pipe Band Association. Val died on Jun.4, 1970, at the age of 43 and is buried in Desertcreat Parish Church just south of Cookstown, County Tyrone. Flora continued to live in Cookstown for some years. She now (1992) lives with her daughter in Hillsborough, County Down. Val and Flora had a daughter:
          1. Shona Hutchinson was born on Aug.21, 1962, in South Tyrone Hospital, Dungannon. She was educated at Cookstown Primary School and Cookstown High School. After graduation she studied at the University of Essex and Blackfriars College, London. On Jun.21, 1989, Shona was married to David J. Haughton of Hillmount Road, Cullybackey, in Desertcreat Parish Church. They have a son:
            1. Jamie Haughton

    Last updated 7/30/99.


    Christopher E. Brennen