Captain Henry Thomas McDonald


One of our members on a recent day trip to Holy Island came across the grave of Captain Henry Thomas McDonald in the St Mary’s Church graveyard, next to the Priory. A photo of the gravestone with its masonic symbol was added to our Masonic Miscellany collection on the Lodge Temperance 2557 website and can be seen here. The gravestone reads:

Henry Thomas McDonald
Who was first in the
32nd and afterwards
Capt. in the 53rd Regt
And served long
In India
Died August 25th 1856
Aged 73 years
Also 2 of his sons
Died in infancy

We were delighted to be contacted by Mrs. Elizabeth Burnage of Bardon Mill, Northumberland, his great great granddaughter, who having found a photo of his gravestone on our website enquired if the Lodge he belonged to would have records of his parents to break down a long standing brick wall in her research.  Captain McDonald’s son Henry Thomas born Holy Island about 1819 was her great grandfather and this was followed by her grandmother Catherine Jane.

Unfortunately, we had to advise her that it’s unlikely a lodge would hold information on a member’s parents as normally it’s only the age, address and occupation recorded. We were also unable to find Captain McDonald on the early registers of the United Grand Lodge of England so it’s likely he was a member of another constitution perhaps Scotland or Ireland. We did find his grandson, another Henry Thomas McDonald as a member of UGLE St David’s Lodge 393 in Berwick upon Tweed who was initiated in 1907.

Elizabeth was kind enough to provide us with this short biography of her great great grandfather:

Henry Thomas McDonald was born in Dublin in 1783; these details are taken from census forms as no birth certificate has been found.  He served in India and whilst serving in the H.M 53rd foot was married on April 6th 1813 at Cawnpore, Bengal to Jane Lockwood Chadwick originally from Tipperary Ireland.

He was promoted from Lieutenant in the 53rd Foot to the rank of Captain of a company on March 31st 1814 replacing Vice Carss (deceased)

Henry and Jane had 10 children, 2 of which died in infancy Frederick Chadwick 1817–1820 and Frederick 1821–1821 and are buried with Henry they include:

  • Mary Ann MacDonald 1814–1852
  • Frederick Chadwick McDonald 1817–1820
  • Henry Thomas McDonald 1819–
  • Frederick McDonald 1821–1821
  • Sarah Rebecca Macdonald 1823–1895
  • George Cummings McDonald 1824–1846
  • William Harper MacDonald1826–1866
  • James C McDonald 1829–1891
  • Jane Arabella Francis McDonald 1832–
  • Charles Hunter McDonald 1833–1901

The family lived on Holy Island from about 1817 and although they lost 2 sons, each named Frederick, they had a living son Henry Thomas who was born in 1819. All of Capt. Henry’s children were born on Holy Island except Mary who was born in India.

Unfortunately the second Henry must have been a bit of a black sheep as he can be found to be held in a military prison on the 1851 census at Rochester St Margaret, Kent on the grounds of desertion. He returned to Holy Island and married Ruth Taylor.  He moved to Newcastle around about the late 1870’s. He did not take after his father I’m afraid.

Note Sarah married well, a wealthy well known family I believe Raleigh Trevelyan of Nether Witton Northumberland.


Many thanks to Elizabeth for contacting us and providing this short biography