© Christopher Earls Brennen



Area near Killycolpy where the MacDonalds lived.

Townlands near Killycolpy.

Four pages of the MacDonald Family Bible.

  1. James McDonald is probably the earliest Macdonald ancestor of whom we have any knowledge at present. He may have been born about 1790. One possibility is that he was the son (baptized Apr.22, 1792) of Alexander and Sarah McDonald of Killycolpy; Alexander and Sarah also had daughters Jane (baptized Oct.12, 1790) and Sarah Ann (baptized Jun.7, 1806). The few records that survive suggest that James became a farmer in Killicolpy, a large townland in the southern part of the Parish of Arboe, County Tyrone. A map of the surrounding townlands is attached. The name Killycolpy was also used as a District Electoral Division in the Southwestern part of Arboe. James is listed as a farmer on his son's marriage certificate. The family bible also records the death of a James McDonald on Jun.22, 1875. The children of James McDonald:
    1. Alexander McDonnell, probably born about 1814, is primarily known to us as the father of Andrew Thomas McDonnell. In the family bible he is listed as Alexander McDonald of Killycolpy. On Andrew's marriage certificate the names are spelt McDonnell and Alexander is listed as a farmer and Andrew's place of residence is given as Killycolpy. Alexander must have been married for the first time before 1834 since he has a son born in 1834. That first marriage was to Elizabeth Martin according to his son, Andrew's death certificate. An Elizabeth Martin was christened in Arboe on Aug.9, 1812, the daughter of Joseph Martin and his wife Elizabeth. Alexander and Elizabeth had several children listed below. In the 1860 Griffith Valuation, Alexander M'Donnell is listed as occupying a farm in the townland of Killycolpy consisting of 5 acres, 3 roods and 0 perches worth 5 pounds with a house worth 10 shillings. Alexander's first wife, Elizabeth, must have died after 1858 (when son John was born) and before 1863 for, 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. On the marriage certificate his father is given as James McDonald, a farmer. Martha died on Jul.17, 1875, of heart disease, aged 44 years. Alexander died two months later, on 25 September 1875 of liver disease, aged 64 years. He was buried at the Parish Church of Arboe. Their daughter, Eliza Martha McDonald, was just 8 years old when her parents died (see below). The valuation book (1864-79) for the townland of Killycolpy shows that, at some point between these two dates, the farm previously occupied by Alex McDonnell was taken over by Thomas Waters. Presumably this occurred in 1875 when Alexander died.. The farm had increased marginally in size from the time of the Griffith Valuation of 1859, with Alexander (applotment 36) taking over a house and offices (applotment 35) previously tenanted by Margaret Stewart. Consequently Alexander’s holding became Applotment 35. The farm can be seen on the attached valuation map, situated immediately north of Albany Meeting House.

      Map of Alexander's Killycolpy applotment 35

      The known children of Alexander MacDonald (listed out of order for convenience):

      1. James McDonald, son of Alexander and Eliza McDonald, was born Sep.27, 1834, and was baptized on Sep.28, 1834, in the Parish of Arboe.
      2. Robert McDonald, son of Alexander and Eliza McDonald of Killycolpy was born on Nov.26, 1839. On Dec.30, 1864, in Catrine, Ayrshire, Scotland, Robert married Mary Gray, born in 1845 the daughter of Charles Gray and Janet McUlly (or McCulley or McCulloch). They had a large family as described below. Mary died in 1902 in Catrine and Robert died on Nov.18, 1906, in Catrine. The children of Robert and Mary McDonald:
        1. William McDonald
        2. James McDonald
        3. Henry McDonald
        4. Elizabeth McDonald
        5. Andrew McDonald
        6. Janet McDonald
        7. Alexander McDonald was born on Dec.2, 1865, in Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland.
        8. Charles McDonald was born on Nov.11, 1867, in Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland.
        9. Robert McDonald was born on Dec.11, 1869, in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland.
        10. Charles McDonald (?) was born on Feb.22, 1872, in Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland.
        11. John McDonald was born on Feb.6, 1874, in Catrine, Ayrshire, Scotland. John married Elizabeth Downie in Catrine on Mar.31, 1899. John died on Oct.22, 1950, at 32 Sunnyside Crescent, Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. John was the grandfather of Jack McDonald ( who provided information on this branch of the family.
      3. Mary McDonald was the daughter of Alexander MacDonald and his first wife, Elizabeth Martin, and must have been born about 1843 since she was aged 22 at her marriage in 1865. On May 1, 1865, in Arboe Parish Church, 22-year-old spinster Mary McDonnell of Killycolpy (father Alexander McDonnell, farmer) was married to Patrick Darby, a 22-year-old bachelor labourer of Stewartstown (father James Darby, labourer). The witnesses were John Lapsley and William Lapsley (who also witnessed her brother Andrew's marriage). In 1873 Patrick and Mary were living at 54 Canal Street, Glasgow, according to their daughter's death certificate; they were also living there in 1871 according to the 1871 Census of Scotland. Living at that address in 1871 (with their ages) were Patrick Darby (30), Mary Darby (30), Mary E. Darby (1), Margaret Brown (3), Hannah McDonald (19), Alexander Mullan (50) and Matthew Watson (32). They were living at the same address in 1881 and the residents were Patrick Darbie (38), Mary Darbie (37), Eliza Darbie (6), Ellen Darbie (4), Mary Darbie (2), Alexander McMillen (40), Feck Clock (20) and Martha McDonald (14). In 1891 they were living at 28 William Street, Glasgow, whose residents were Patrick Darby (48), Mary Darby (48), Elizabeth Darby (16), Ellen Darby (13) and Mary Darby (12). In 1898 they were living at 19 Balmanno Street, Glasgow. Mary died on Jun.30, 1898 in the district of Blackfriars, Glasgow. Mary and Patrick Darby had children:
        1. Mary Elizabeth Darby was born in 1870 and died as a child in 1873 at 54 Canal Street, Glasgow.
        2. Annie Darby was born in 1872. She is not listed in the 1881 or 1891 Censuses and may have died before 1881.
        3. Elizabeth Darby was born in 1874. She is listed in both the 1881 and 1891 census. Elizabeth married a man named Kendry, lived at 137 Drygate, Glasgow and registered her mother's death in 1898.
        4. Ellen Darby was born in 1878 and is listed in both the 1881 and 1891 Census.
        5. Mary Darby was born in 1879 and is listed in both the 1881 and 1891 Census.

        1865 Darby/McDonald marriage certificate.
        (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)
        1898 Death Certificate of Mary Darby.
        (Courtesy of Rhonda Kerton)

      4. Eliza Sarah(?) McDonald, daughter of Alexander and Eliza McDonnell of Killycolpy was born on Jun.15, 1846.
      5. Hannah McDonald, daughter of Alexander (Killycolpy farmer) and Eliza (Martin) McDonald, was born on Sep.10, 1849, and baptized on Sep.20, 1849. She was living at 54 Canal Street, Glasgow, with her sister Mary according to the 1871 Census of Scotland and was 19 years old at the time. In 1872 Hannah married James Cosbey and their address in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 Censuses was 34 Strathblane Road, Milngavie, Stirlingshire/Dumbartonshire, Scotland. Hannah and James Cosbey had children:
        1. William Cosbey was born about 1873 and, in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 Censuses, he is listed as an 8-year-old, a 18-year-old and a 28-year-old living with his parents.
        2. Elizabeth Cosbey was born about 1875 and, in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 Censuses, she is listed as an 6-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 25-year-old living with her parents.
        3. Hannah Cosbey was born about 1877 and, in the 1881 and 1891 Censuses, she is listed as an 4-year-old and a 14-year-old living with her parents.
        4. John Cosbey was born about 1880 and, in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 Censuses, he is listed as a 1-year-old, a 11-year-old and a 21-year-old living with his parents.
        5. James Cosbey was born about 1884 and, in the 1891 and 1901 Censuses, he is listed as a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old living with his parents.
        6. Isabella D. Cosbey was born about 1889 and, in the 1891 and 1901 Censuses, she is listed as a 2-year-old and a 12-year-old living with her parents.
      6. Alexander McDonnell, son of Alexander (Killycolpy farmer) and Eliza McDonnell, born Oct.2, 1852, was baptized on Jan.2, 1853.
      7. John McDonnell, son of Alexander (Killycolpy labourer) and Eliza McDonnell, born Aug.13, 1858.
      8. George MacDonald, son of Alexander and his second wife, Martha, was born on Jan.27, 1865.
      9. Eliza Martha MacDonald, daughter of Alexander and his second wife, Martha, was born on Jun.3, 1867. She would have been just eight years old when her parents died in 1875 and it seems that she moved to Scotland to live in the home of her half-sister, Mary (McDonald) Darby. This is probably the Martha McDonald, aged 14, described as ‘relative’, who was a member of the Darby household at 54 Canal Street, Glasgow, in the 1881 census.

      10. Andrew Thomas MacDonald, our ancestor, was the son of Alexander MacDonald and his first wife, Elizabeth Martin, and must have been born about 1841 since his age at death in 1924 was listed as 83. In the old family bible Andrew 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. Their first child, Alexander, was born in 1869 in Mullaghglass, Co. Tyrone. Shortly thereafter Andrew and Martha emigrated to Glasgow, Scotland; the 1871 Census of Scotland records the family of three as living at 37 East Hope Street, Glasgow. Their second child, William, was born in Lanarkshire, in 1872. When their son James (the first with that name) died in 1875 they were living at 54 Canal Street, Port Dundas, Glasgow and Andrew was working as a mason's labourer. When their daughter Eliza Jane (the first with that name) was born in 1876 they were living at or near the Spittal Hill Colliery in Cambuslang, Scotland, and when she died in 1880 they were living at 230 Nuneaton Street, Barrowfield, Glasgow, and Andrew was working in the iron foundry. Their son, Andrew Thomas, was born in Glasgow in 1879 but baptized later that year in Stewartstown, Co.Tyrone. When their son Andrew Thomas (the first with that name) died in July 1880 they were living at 230 Nuneaton Street, Glasgow and Andrew was working as an iron foundry labourer. The 1881 Census of Scotland records the family as living at 230 Nuneaton Street, Barrowfield, Glasgow. It lists 32-year-old Andrew McDonald, a labourer in an iron foundry and his 30-year-old wife Martha, both born in Ireland as well as their 11-year-old son Alexander (a scholar born in Ireland) and their 9-year-old son William, born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire. It also lists 50-year-old mother-in-law, Jane Martin, and 23-year-old James Martin (a labourer in an iron foundry) both born in Ireland. Family history recalls that Andrew and Martha had a shop and lived at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. Indeed, the 1891 Census of Scotland, records the whole family living at 44 East John Street, Glasgow: 44-year-old Andrew is listed as an iron works labourer and the rest of the family are listed as included below. Jane Martin is listed as 67-year-old mother-in-law and widowed housekeeper born in Ireland. The family bible records that their daughter Martha was born there about 1883 and that their son James was born at that address in 1891. Therefore Andrew Thomas and Martha must have resided in Scotland during 1876-91 at least. 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.

        Marriage certificate of Andrew Macdonald and Martha McReynolds in 1867.

        1881 Census record for 230 Nuneaton Street, Barrowfield, Glasgow, Scotland.
        (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)

        1891 Census record for 44 East John Street, Glasgow, Scotland.
        (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)

        1924 Death Certificate of Andrew MacDonald (``M S Martin'' means ``maiden surname Martin'').
        (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)

        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 (see below). 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. Andrew MacDonald died in Stobhill hospital in Springburn, Glasgow, on Nov.3, 1924, at the age of 83. On his death certificate he is listed as a labourer whose residence is 133 Balornock Road, Glasgow (the address of the hospital). He is also listed as a widower of Martha McCrandle (the variant of McReynolds entered by the form-filler) which is clearly a deception since Martha was still alive. He is also listed as the son of Alexander McDonald (labourer, deceased) and Elizabeth McDonald (maiden name Martin, deceased). We know of at least seven children of Andrew MacDonald though there may have been more:

        1. Alexander MacDonald, the eldest child of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds, was born in Mullaghglass, Co. Tyrone, on May 22, 1869. His father, Andrew Thomas, is listed as a labourer. The family moved to Scotland shortly after Alexander's birth and the family of three are recorded as living at 37 East Hope Street, Glasgow in the 1871 Census of Scotland. Alexander is listed in the 1881 Census of Scotland as an 11-year-old schoolboy (born in Ireland) living with his parents at 230 Nuneaton Street, Barrowfield, Glasgow. He is also listed in the 1891 Census as a 21-year-old, unmarried carpet salesman (born in Ireland) living with his parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. Known as ``Sandy'', Alexander 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 relief 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.

          Andrew and Martha Martha MacDonald
          MacDonald about 1900.

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

          William M.M. Macdonald Frank Macdonald

        2. William Macdonald was born on Feb.25, 1872, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, the second child of Andrew MacDonald. He is listed in the family bible. He is also listed in the 1881 Census of Scotland as a 9-year-old schoolboy (born in Glasgow) living with his parents at 230 Nuneaton Street, Barrowfield, Glasgow. He is also listed in the 1891 Census as a 19-year-old, unmarried ``ladle dauber in iron works'' (born in Glasgow) living with his parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. The bible also lists his marriage on Sep.3, 1894, to Helen Young McLeod (daughter of William McLeod and Barbara Kelly) and the birth of a son. William McDonald worked in Glasgow as a "engineer's store keeper'' but died on Oct.9, 1904, of chronic gastritis at the age of 32 at his home at 281 London Road, Glasgow. The family bible lists his death on Oct.9, 1904, with the notation ``Gone but not forgotten''. After his death, his wife, Helen, son William Martin McLeod MacDonald, and daughter, Alexandria, aged 19, emigrated to New Zealand setting sail from Southhampton on SS Athenic on Jun.29, 1922. In 1938 Helen Young Macdonald was living at 109 Forfar Street in Dunedin, New Zealand. The children of William and Helen MacDonald:
          1. William Martin McLeod Macdonald was born in Glasgow on Aug.4, 1895. On Jun.29, 1922, William MacDonald, aged 26, motorman, of 281 London Road, Glasgow, set sail for New Zealand on SS Athenic from Southampton. He travelled with his mother, Mrs. H. MacDonald aged 51 and with Alexandria McDonald aged 19. William married Doris Elizabeth Sarah McKenzie (born Nov.28, 1903) in New Zealand in 1925. They were divorced in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1930/31. Prior to 1933 William married Myrtle Vida Young, born on Jul.12, 1906, in Mosgiel, Dunedin, New Zealand. In 1938 he was living at 109 Forfar Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, and working as a tramway man. Myrtle died in Dunedin on Dec.7, 1987. William M.M. Macdonald died in Dunedin on Sep.1, 1988. The children of William and Vida Macdonald:
            1. Helen Vida Macdonald was born on Jan.14, 1933, in Dunedin, New Zealand and died in Dunedin on Sep.7, 2001.
            2. Frank Young Macdonald was born on Jun.27, 1940, in Dunedin, New Zealand and died in Dunedin on Nov.23, 1998.
            3. Myrtle Hannah Macdonald was born on Aug.20, 1941, in Dunedin, New Zealand and died in Dunedin on Mar.9, 2012.
            4. Mavis Irene Macdonald was born on Apr.27, 1943, in Dunedin, New Zealand and died in Dunedin on May 28, 2010.
          2. Alexandria Macdonald was born in 1903/4; the MacDonald family bible has the single name Alexandra entered on the page for children's names. At the age of 19, Alexandria emigrated to New Zealand with her mother and brother, setting sail from Southhampton on SS Athenic on Jun.29, 1922.

        3. James Macdonald, the first child of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds with that name, was born in 1874. He died at the age of 1 of croup on Jun.29, 1875, in 54 Canal Street, Port Dundas, Glasgow.

        4. Eliza Jane Macdonald, the first child of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds with that name, was born on Dec.14, 1876, at the Spittal Hill Colliery in Cambuslang, Scotland. She died at the age of 3 of tubercular meningitis on Mar.27, 1880, in 230 Nuneaton Street, Glasgow; her death on that date is recorded in the family bible.

        5. Andrew Thomas Macdonald, the first son of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds with that name, 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, most probably his maternal grandmother, was present at the birth. Andrew died of tubercular meningitis in Glasgow at the age of one.

        6. Andrew Macdonald, the second son of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds with that name, was born about 1881. He is listed in the 1891 Census of Scotland as a 9-year-old, schoolboy (born in Glasgow) living with his parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. Andrew married Kathleen Kelly (born about 1888 in County Dublin) who was known as Kitty. Andrew was present at the death of Robert Farrell in Tamnavally, County Tyrone, in 1909. In the 1911 Census of Ireland, 29-year-old hotel waiter Andrew McDonald (born in Scotland) and his 23-year-old wife Kathleen are listed as boarders in the home of a tailor, James Hamilton, in 4 Lincoln Avenue, Clifton, Antrim. In 1911 when their daughter Martha and their son Andrew were born they were living in Union Place, Dungannon, and Andrew was working as a butler. Between 1915 and 1919 they moved to Portadown, County Armagh, where Andrew became a waiter in the Imperial Hotel in Portadown. He became the head waiter. He and Kathleen, known as Kitty, 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 that had been presented to him by employers during the years he was a butler. His last residence was 4 McClure Street, Belfast. He was predeased by Kathleen and died in the Royal Victoria Hospital on Apr.26, 1965, at the age of 83. His death was registered by M. Macdonald of 85 Fernagh Road, Whiteabbey, perhaps his son Meredith. The children of Andrew and Kathleen MacDonald:
          1. Martha Alexandra Catherine Macdonald was born on Dec.6, 1911, in Tamnavally and was baptized in Ardboe in 1912. Her father is listed as a hotel waiter
          2. Andrew Macdonald was born in Union Place, Dungannon, on Jun.11, 1913, and his father was working as a butler. He lived in London.
          3. Elizabeth Barbara Mabel Macdonald was born in Drumcoo, County Tyrone, in 1915. Her father is listed as a waiter.
          4. Lucy Macdonald was born in 1919, in Portadown, County Armagh. Her father is listed as a hotel waiter.
          5. Samuel Macdonald was born in 1920, in Portadown, County Armagh. Her father is listed as a waiter. Samuel became a civil engineer attached to the Admiralty in Portsmouth.
          6. Lily Macdonald.
          7. Alexander Macdonald lived in Belfast.
          8. Meredith Macdonald lived in Belfast.

        7. Martha Macdonald (Dolly), a daughter of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds, was born about 1883 in Glasgow, Scotland. She is listed in the 1891 Census of Scotland as a 7-year-old, schoolgirl (born in Glasgow) living with her parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. In the 1901 Census of Ireland, 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 Gladys Duff and father
          about 1918. George Kerton.
          (Courtesy of Gladys Duff)

        8. Eliza Jane Macdonald, the second daughter of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds with that name was always known as Lilian. She was born in Scotland on Aug.16, 1886, and baptized in Arboe on Oct.31, 1886. She is listed in the 1891 Census of Scotland as a 4-year-old (born in Glasgow) living with her parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. In the 1901 Census of Ireland, Lilian, aged 14, is recorded as staying as a visitor with her sister Martha in the household of Robert Henry Norris in Tamlaghtmore, Arboe. Though family legend claims Lilian went to London (perhaps in order to hide the truth), the records suggest she went elsewhere in Ireland, perhaps Dublin, where she may have worked in the Post Office. Wherever she went she met a soldier by the name of George Kerton with whom she had a son, 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 (in those days it was not uncommon to ``hide'' an unmarried, pregnant girl with a distant relative). The 1901 Dublin Census has William, aged 74, living at that address with his unmarried daughter, Anne MacDonald, aged 49; the 1911 Census has William aged 84 at the same address though his daughter is not listed. (Pat Grimes ( has been able to tentatively reconstruct the story of George Kerton and that story is recounted below.) In the 1911 Census, Lilian ``Kerton'' is listed as a 22-year-old house maid servant living in Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, where her employer is Abraham Briscoe; she describes herself as Church of Ireland, born in Scotland, married 3 years with one child born and alive. Abraham Briscoe was a very well-known Lithuanian immigrant to Ireland whose son Robert became the Lord Mayor of Dublin and published a popular autobiography entitled ``For the Life of Me''; the Briscoe home at 58 Upper Leeson Street, was a very grand abode. Later Lilian moved to London where she met a man named Frank Dunlop with whom she formed a relationship though they had no children. Lilian died in London; the family bible refers to the death of ``Lillie'' on Jul.6, 1918 though this may instead refer to another member of the family (it would mean that Lilian died at the age of 29). 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. However, George Meredith Kerton/MacDonald was baptized in St.Stephen's Parish Church, Dublin, on Feb.14, 1909, and on that certificate the parents are listed as George Kerton and Lilian N/R(?).

            Baptism record for Meredith Kerton.
            (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)
            Meredith (as he was known) was removed to County 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 in 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 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, and became a bus driver like his father. In 1960, he married Rhoda Parks and they emigrated to Alberta, Canada. Donald died in Surrey, British Columbia, on May 16, 1979, at the age of 45. Their children:
              1. Debbie Kerton was born in 1962.
              2. Rhonda Michelle Kerton was born at the Holy Cross Hospital in Alberta, Canada, in 1970. The family moved from Alberta to British Columbia in 1976 where Rhonda became a nurse.
            3. Victor Leslie Kerton was born in Cookstown and married Norah Palmer in 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 in 1961.
              2. Gail Dubois was born in 1963.
              3. Julie Dubois
              4. Tracey Dubois was born in 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 in 1963. Gladys died on Dec.7, 2013. John and Gladys had two children:
              1. Brian George Duff, born in 1965, married Andrea Margaret Thompson in 2000. He is headmaster of Carnmoney Primary School, Newtownabbey, Belfast; Andrea is vice-principal of Linn Primary School, Larne.
              2. Solveig Patricia Duff, born in 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.

          Gladys (Kerton) Burns Donald Kerton
          in 1957 in Whitehead
          (Courtesy of Rhonda Kerton)

          George Kerton's (II) story as constructed by Pat Grimes (

          George Kerton (II) was born on Oct.10, 1884 or 1883, in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, the son of George Kerton (I)(1863-1937) and his wife, Ellen (Tynan). George is listed in the 1901 Census as a 17-year-old tailor living with his parents and younger brother, Thomas, in Clonmel. Note that Clonmel was a garrison town so that, perhaps, the Kerton name originated with an English soldier stationed there (Clonmel was first garrisoned by Cromwell in 1650). Mark Kerton of Limerick ( has constructed an extensive Kerton family tree (see which traces the family back to the 1600s. In 1900 George Kerton (II) enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles but was discharged after three weeks when it was discovered that he was under age. He re-enlisted on Aug.22, 1901, signing on for 7 years in the colors and 5 years in the reserve. Even if he had served abroad he would, in all probability, have been transferred home a few months prior to the end of his service in 1908. In that year he must have met Lilian Macdonald, perhaps in Dublin. As described above, their child George Meredith Kerton was born in 1909 in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. George Kerton (II) went his own way and married Catherine ``Kate'' O'Leary of Clonmel in 1910 and their story includes the death of a child in 1911 in Naas, County Kildare, and the issue of dog licenses in 1912, 13 and 14 that show them living in County Kildare. They must have moved to Dublin before 1916 for the death of a son, 4-year-old George Christopher Kerton, is recorded in Dublin in 1916. On Sep.29, 1917, George (II) re-enlisted in the army (giving his occupation as a barman), signing up for three years’ service with the 5th Lancers. It is not known if his unit was engaged in active service. On May 9, 1919, George's merchant seaman identity card lists him as a cook and names his next-of-kin as Catherine Kerton of 2 Tilledan Cottages, Doleymount (Dollymount), Dublin.

          Merchant seaman identity card of George Kerton (II).
          (Courtesy of Pat Grimes)
          There is a further reference to him as a merchant seaman (cook) in 1930. Mark Kerton records George's year of death as 1963. The children of George and Kate Kerton:

          1. George Christopher Kerton was born in 1912 and died as an infant in 1916.
          2. Thomsey Dennis Kerton was born in 1913 and married Margaret Mason.
          3. Kathleen Eleanor Kerton was born in 1914 and married Michael Murphy.
          4. Alfred Kerton

        9. Margarette Macdonald was born on Apr.3, 1889, according to the family bible but lived only a few days and died of pertussis at 44 East John Street, Glasgow, on Apr.10, 1889. Her death is recorded in the family bible.

        10. James Macdonald (1891-1975), a son of Andrew MacDonald and Martha McReynolds, was Doreen's grandfather, born in 44 East John Street, Glasgow on Jan.19, 1891. He is listed in the 1891 Census of Scotland as a 3-month-old infant (born in Glasgow) living with his parents at 44 East John Street, Glasgow. 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. Luran'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 wherever 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 unconscious 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.

          James, Margaret and Sadie Sadie and Flora MacDonald. Jamie Haughton
          MacDonald about 1924. & 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.

          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 Ardcumber, 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 (and later in Hillsborough, County Down) for some years.

    Last updated 1/30/2018.

    Christopher E. Brennen