Capt Hector McDonald

Hector McDonald was born in Shieldaig Scotland on February 12th 1805 to Normand and Janet (McKenzie) McDonald. Little is known of his early life, however it is known he owned a small trading vessel and had the reputation of "The greatest seaman of them all",  using these skills to train Duncan and Murdoch McKenzie who in later years became respected Master Mariners in their own right.

Hector married his trainees sister Ann McKenzie in 1836 and had 6 children - Isabella (13/05/1839), John (28/07/1841), Ann (1842), Norman (1845), Duncan (1849) and Colin (15/05/1851).

In 1856 he accepted an offer from Ann's brother Duncan to migrate to New Zealand.  On the 8th of August 1856 Captain Clark brought the 622 ton  Lord Burleigh around North Head and in to Auckland harbour after some 112 days at sea.  Included in the passenger list was Hector McDonald, his wife Ann and their 6 children. In 1858 a seventh child, Murdoch was born.

The book "The Lion of Scotland" states that Hector traded along the New Zealand coast between Waipu and Auckland until he finally retired from the sea in the 1870's, giving his full attention to the farm.

Hector and Ann's two daughters married, Isabella to Mr Hector Clark and Ann to Mr Norman Matherson.  The two eldest sons, John and Norman stayed on the land, establishing their own farms, John at Whangarei with Norman settling at Grey Lynn.

The remaining three sons all became Master Mariners.  In fact the McDonald's together with their cousins the McKenzie's formed almost a dynasty of Sea Captain's, and were major players in Auckland shipping both as seafarers and ship owners.

Mrs Ann McDonald died in 1875 aged 62, Hector however lived into the new century.  An article in the Auckland Weekly News dated 14/11/1901 states "though he has been  blind for some 10 years, his mind is as active as that of many men 70 years of age". 

Hector McDonald in 1901 not long before his death
Capt Hector McDonald

An interesting aside comes from two New Zealand newspapers (1901 & 1902) in which Hector mentions the then visiting General Sir Hector McDonald "Fighting Mac", noting that "he is related to some of Sir Hector's people". Interesting, although I have not at this point in time found the time to check this one out.

Hector lived out his final years with his son Norman at Waipu, passing away on the 21st of April 1902 at the ripe old age of 97 years. Hector was buried in the Waipu Cemetery (plot 351) on the 23rd of April, where his wife Ann had been buried many years before. It is unknown when the headstone was added to the grave, however it gives the surname of both Ann and Hector as MAC DONALD!

At the 48th annual meeting of the Waipu Caledonian Society in 1919, Mr John Clark donated a silver cup to be used as a trophy at the societies Annual Highland Gathering and Games. The trophy was named the Hector McDonald Cup (after John's Grandfather) to be used as a perpetual trophy. I attended the 143rd Annual Games in Waipu in 2015 and it is still being presented nearly 100 years later.



A portrait was taken for a newspaper article on the family in 1924, although even in those days people were "Photoshopped" in, Capt Murdoch McDonald was in Singapore when this photo was taken so he was added in later.


Family Portrait 1924
Colin McDonald, Murdoch McDonald, Norman McDonald, John McDonald,Ann Matherson, Isabella Clark


Ann McDonald (nee McKenzie) passed away in 1875 aged 62 and was buried at Waipu cemetery, Northland New Zealand.

Capt Duncan McDonald was lost at sea in 1880.

Capt Murdoch McDonald was murdered in Singapore on October 31st 1925.

Ann Matherson (nee McDonald) passed away on April 30th 1929 aged 79 years.

Norman McDonald who had moved to Auckland in 1907, passed away on July 4th 1931 at Leamington road, Mount Eden, New Zealand aged 86 years.

Capt Colin McDonald passed away in Belgrave, Victoria, Australia on November 8th 1946.

John McDonald celebrated his 95th Birthday in 1932. This photograph is taken from the New Zealand herald of 20/08/1932.
Grave site of Capt Hector McDonald and Mrs Hector (Ann) McDonald


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