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The Black Country MACDONALD/McDONALD Family of C19th-C21st (Tipton & Dudley, Staffordshire) & Greater Birmingham, England
Arriving from Ireland in 1822

i. General Synopsis

This the Irish & Black Country ancestry (Tipton & the greater Dudley area) & wider-ranging descendants of Luke & Mary McDONALD/MACDONALD (born around the turn of the C19th in Ireland and married there by c1821). Known name variants in the C19th English records include the short-form MACK”, MACKDONALD, McDONNALL, McDONAGH, McDONNER, McDONOUGH (i.e. McD*, MacD* or MackD*) and also Mc D* (with space) which can make finding records difficult.

I would be delighted to make contact with any cousins to share stories and photos of the family. Today's families have adopted both spellings as either McDONALD or MacDONALD and the family synopsis below tries to honour those adopted spellings. This research was fully updated in June 2014.

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ii. Historical Perspective

The Clan Donald is of Celtic origins (Gaelic: MacDhomhnaill). At the height of power in the mid C15th, the Clan controlled most of the Western Isles, much of the western Scottish highlands, the NE parts of current Northern Ireland, and were known as Lords of the Isles. The Clan traces its origins to Somerled, an Irish/Norse warrior (DNA study). Somerled's son, Reginald or Ranald, was given part of the kingdom (Islay & Kintyre) upon his father's death. His son Donald, who succeeded as Lord of the Isles in 1207, provided the Clan name. There are nine distinct branches descending from Donald.

The Clan system was legislated against in 1746 and continually repressed. Many crofters (subsistence farmers) were evicted from lands in the period 1790-1845 to be replaced by sheep, during what is known as the Highland Clearances. Many settled in Ireland. It was mid way through this period that the first known members of my family appear on their travels, possibly looking for a new life away from the one they had known. The following map shows the concentration of the family name in Ireland. Their origins within Ireland are unknown, but this historical background suggests Scots-Irish ancestry and that their sojourn in Ireland may have only been temporary. Despite more Irish records appearing online, there are no further clues to their Irish origins. Maybe your branch has surviving tales passed down through the generations that may provide a clue?

Part 1: From Ireland came "Strangers on Travel" (1822 - <1841)

Luke McDONALD, my 3xGGF (c1799 based on age at death in 1853) and Mary his wife (c1803 in 1841, c1793 based on age of death in 1846) were probably married in Ireland before 1821 (marriage sought). Luke was an Agricultural Labourer (1841 & 1851), Furnaceman (1844) & Weaver (1853). He died in 1853 in Wood Street, Tipton in the English Black Country. Mary died there in Sep 1846.

They arrived in the Midlands area by 1822 from northern places unknown. Mary was heavily pregnant with their first child, John McDONALD. They probably were recently arrived from Ireland, via Liverpool or Anglesey, since John was reportedly born en route in Warrington, Cheshire (1851 census). However, as John MACDONALD he was baptised 8 Nov 1822 as s/o Luke & Mary at Stone St Michael, Staffs. The 1822 record shows that Luke & Mary were "Strangers on Travel". The same John is believed to be the informant at Luke's death in 1853 Tipton. Unfortunately, no other family baptisms have been located. In 1851 Luke & son John, a Puddler (only) were in the same household and recorded as McDONOUGH.

It is possible the early family were in the present-day Telford area of Shropshire in the period 1828-1832 since one census record each for son Patrick (aka James) has him born in Wellington & his sister Mary Ann in Oakengates (neighbouring villages), before defaulting to Tipton STS or Dudley, WOR for the remainder. They were all in Wolverhampton Street, Dudley by 1841.

Part 2: The First Generation Dudley/Tipton Family (<1841 - 1853)

Note: In Tipton & Aston until the C20th the family were referred to as "MACK" for short.

In 1841 Dudley the family were at Wolverhampton Street as
MacKdonk with a number of other families of Irish name spelled phonetically; all Agricultural Labourers. All records suggest that son Patrick (aka Patsy, aka Patcy) is also known as James (on all census returns). This cannot be demonstrated by baptismal records, however in all records either James or Patsy are recorded but never together. One could be a family name and the other a Catholic saints' birth or baptismal name, or simply referring to his Irish origins. John McDONALD (1822) is missing from the 1841 census;

Present, with Luke given as 35 years (c1806), Agricultural Labourer, and Mary 38 years (c1803) were:

  • Luke McDONALD (c1826) - 14 years "born in Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts" (outside WOR at least);

  • James McDONALD (aka Patrick McDONALD c1829) - 11 years on original - born in county (Dudley, WOR, but incorrectly indexed as aged 4);

  • Mary Ann McDONALD (c1832 Dudley-1899 Oldbury) - 9 years - born in county (Dudley, WOR), m. Joseph H AKINS in 1850. The AKINS had a large family in Tipton (also variously recorded as ADKINS, AIKENS, AIKINS, AKINGS, ARKINS, ATKINS, ATKENS, HAKINES & HAKINS). In 1851 the AKINS were living next door to her father & brother (Luke & John). After husband Joseph's death in 1889, Mary Ann (as ATKINS) was living with her married daughter Sarah ONIONS and family in Oldbury. The AKINS family descendants have stories that Mary Ann's maiden name was LUNN, however this does not match BMD or McDONALD family data;

In 1851 Tipton both Luke & son John were in Wood Street (see map of Tipton, below), where Luke died in 1853. The entry clearly states Luke's origins as Ireland (Labourer), and supports John's birth en route in Cheshire. Both were unmarried. That Luke had been widowed is confirmed by the death of “Mary MACDONALD, wife of Luke MACDONALD, Labourer”, on 17 Sep 1846 at Wood Street, Tipton, aged 53 due to consumption.

  • John McDONALD (1822) was apparently unmarried in 1851 and last known in 1853 Tipton to inform of his father's death. There are deaths in Dudley RD in Q1 1854 & Dec 1857 but are young children and not him. The 1850 marriage in Tipton is confirmed as not being him. Nothing more is known;

  • Luke McDONALD (1826) has no further records after the 1841 census. The Liverpool family with this name has been eliminated by research & public records. The lack of a local marriage or death record suggests that Luke may have returned to Ireland by 1851 or moved overseas. Nothing more is proven, however an Ancestry research has possible links for a Luke J McDONALD, originally of Co. Mayo, who went to the US from Liverpool in 1848 by way Connecticut and settled in Ohio/Kentucky with subsequent family (children similar naming pattern). No further information has been provided to support this being the same Luke.

Part 3: The Second Generation Tipton Family (1849 - Early C20th)

James/Patrick McDONALD (aka Patsy McDONNER upon marriage), my 2xGGF (n. c1828/9), Coalminer, married Phebe/Phoebe WHITEHOUSE on 29 Oct 1849 at Dudley PC, both of Castle Street, Dudley. One witness was Mary Ann McDONNER, his 18-y.o. sister. The other witness was Joseph AKINGS (who is assumed to be her fiancé at the time). Mary Ann marries Joseph AKIN (as HAKIN) the following year in Dudley. James/Patrick is reported by family to be a Catholic, whereas Phebe becomes a Methodist later on. She was a hawker / shopkeeper and died in 1910. She was illiterate and family stories after Patrick died relate that she had her own system to check customers debts that were put "on the slate".

On census returns the family were living in Tipton at Watery Lane (1861), 59 Waterloo Street (1871) and at 8 Watery Lane (1881) - see map, above. James & Phebe were living with Phebe's widowed mother Hannah WHITEHOUSE in Lower Green, Tipton in 1851, however they were interestingly recorded as LUCAS. It is possible this was part of Irish traditional naming that James was s/o Luke, i.e. LUCAS. This is the only time this name appears in records. In 1861 they were given as MacKdoller (sic) & in 1871 the head of the family was given as "James". As Patrick, he is known to have died in 1876. The records of daughter Mary (1851) support the use of both names - Patcy MACK on her BC and James MACDONALD on her MC. In 1881 Phoebe was a 49 year old widow with the recorded surname "MACKDONNAL or MACK". In early 1891 she remarried local man Enoch MILNER and they were together on the 1891 & 1901 census first at 14 Watery Lane, then in Queens Road, Tipton. In 1891 her two unmarried daughters were still at home (Sarah McDONALD & Phoebe McDONALD) prior to both their marriages shortly thereafter.

Known children & descendants (all born Tipton & the greater Black Country area):

  • Mary MACK / MACDONALD (21 Jun1851, Lower Green, Tipton - 1905) d/o Patcy & Phebe MACK, m. 2 Aug 1868 to Thomas ANDREWS (as 17 y-o nailer d/o James MACDONALD). Witnesses were Phebe's brother Thomas & his wife Ann Maria. In 1871 Thomas & Mary ANDREWS were living next door to James & Phebe at 58 Waterloo Street, however by 1881 and subsequent census the ANDREWS family had moved to Staveley, Derbyshire. There are numerous ANDREWS descendants from a large family;

  • Hannah McDONALD (c1854-1915), m. 1875 to Joseph RICHARDS and remained in Tipton. Note the additional initial "J" or "L" is only on the 1891 census and is not known what it refers to. Her birth remains to be found;

  • John McDONALD (c1857-1927) - the 1861 census is the only time an unknown initial "T" or "J" is recorded for John. His birth record remains uncertain. In 1891 he is a Labourer with a much younger wife in Tipton at Ct No. 2 New Cross Street. This would be the Mar 1890 marriage to Millicent BLOOD. Tipton children include:

    • John McDONALD (1890-1917) = Ethel May WEED in Dec 1914;

      • John McDONALD (1915-31) nothing more known;

    • Thomas McDONALD (1892-1951) – Tipton St Paul marriages confirm the 1917 m. to Elizabeth Ellen MULLET. Children:

      • Thomas James MACDONALD (1920-1981) = Hilda V NICKLIN in 1942 Wednesbury:

        • Paul MACDONALD (1946-2007) = Susan GOTH in 1976;

      • Marjory E MACDONALD (1925, Dudley) = Ernest John RUDGE in 1945 Wednesbury;

      • John MACDONALD (1939, Wednesbury) = Pauline E WOODALL in 1961 Wednesbury;

        • Andrew John MACDONALD (1967 West Bromwich) = Julie A TAYLOR in 1992;

        • Ian William MACDONALD (1967 West Bromwich);

    • Phoebe McDONALD (1894-1991 Indiana, USA) = Charles Henry STEPHENS in 1915 Tipton. They emigrated in 1921;

    • Enoch McDONALD (1899-1974) = Elizabeth Marjorie REMES in 1928 Old Swinford:

      • Elizabeth M MACDONALD (1929 Dudley) = Norman CLARKE (c1924);

      • Sheila K MACDONALD (Q2 1938 Dudley) nothing more known;

    • Millicent McDONALD (1902-1992) = Leonard HAINES in 1921;

    • Annie McDONALD (c1905), nothing known after her appearance on the 1911 census (birth record unconfirmed) – some researchers have her as Mary Ann (c1908) but her age is clearly 6 years on the census;

    • Ethel McDONALD (1906-1985) = John NORTON;

    • Job McDONALD (1909-1973) = Lilian V Irene PORTMAN. Child:

      • Christine D MACDONALD (1946) = Anthony WALDRON;

  • George McDONALD (c1859-1913). In 1881 he was unmarried & lodging with the ANDREWS in Staveley as George MACK, and in 1891 was married & lodging alone with the Tipton family of John & Phebe CARTWRIGHT in Rawmarsh, Yorkshire. He married Susannah SALT in 1890 Tipton and they were resident there in 1901. In 1911 George was recorded in an institution just 2 years before he died. Children:

    • George McDONALD (1890-1967) = Gertrude SHEPHEARD in 1926 Tipton. No apparent children on BMD;

    • Thomas McDONALD (1892-1930) = Annie Eliza Grainger McDONALD (his cousin, see below) in 1914 Tipton. Children in Dudley RD:

      • Thomas McDONALD (1915) nothing more known;

      • Hilda M McDONALD (1917) nothing more known;

      • Joan C McDONALD (1921) nothing more known;

As all 3 children have no further records, it is possible they were adopted as a result of their father's early death. Annie remarried to John Thomas ROGERS in 1939 Wednesbury and died there the following year.

    • Alfred MACKDONALD (1896-1930) = Mary Elizabeth GRINSILL in 1916 Tipton. Mary Elizabeth died with their first born son Alfred MACDONALD (born 1920, died 1920). Alfred remarried to Hannah WILLIS later in 1920. Children:

      • Alfred Leonard McDONALD (1921-1970). No known marriage;

      • Eva M MCDONALD (1922). No known marriage;

      • Violet S McDONALD (1924-1934);

      • George Leslie McDONALD (1926-2000) = Betty COLLETT. Children:

        • Lorraine B McDONALD (1955) possibly married Mark Edwin KINNIE in 2005;

        • Leslie C G McDONALD (1957);

      • William McDONALD (1928) = Hildegard G M TÜRK and settled in Rowley Regis. Children:

        • Michael W McDONALD (1950) = Sandra F BRADLEY;

        • Susan M MCDONALD (1951) = Frederick J NORTON;

        • Andrew D McDONALD (1952) = Marilyn J PERKINS;

        • Hazel V McDONALD (1955) = Paul J COATES;

      It is interesting that Alfred died same quarter in 1930 as his brother Thomas. Coincidence?;

    • Samuel McDONALD (1899-1933) = Mary Ann PRIEST on 1 Oct 1921 at Dudley RO. Children include:

      • Albert McDONALD (1922) nothing more known;

    • William Henry McDONALD (1901-1940) = Sarah Ann WILLIS (1902-1931) – 1 child, then Sarah Evelyn GREEN (3 children):

      • William Henry MACDONALD (1924-49);

      • Doreen Susie McDONALD (1933-2011) = George Henry ELCOCK;

      • Colin G R McDONALD (1937-41);

      • Kathleen Margaret MACDONALD (1939-72) = Patrick MCPHERSON;

    • Mary Ann McDONALD (1904-1905);

  • Catherine McDONALD (1863-1942) = Samuel KIMBERLEY in Sep 1884 Tipton;

  • Job McDONALD, my GGF (6 Dec 1865 Waterloo Street, Tipton) - see Part 4, below;

  • Sarah MACDONALD (21 Mar 1869 - 1938) = William Thomas EDWARDS (1864). Family in 1901 Tipton;

  • Thomas McDONALD (1871) = Eliza GRAINGER as a late marriage in Sep 1897 Tipton after 3 children already born, although it is not clear if he was the biological father through a common-law relationship first. The eldest three sometimes used the surname GRAINGER and were registered with that name upon birth. In 1891 (Iron Furnace Labourer) he was lodging with the RICHARDS family in Griffiths Street (his sister Hannah & husband). In 1901 he was with Eliza. In 1911 there were 9 children recorded to 15 years of marriage. Tipton born children:

    • Joseph Grainger McDONALD (1891-1971) nothing more known;

    • Ann Eliza Grainger McDONALD (1893) = her cousin Thomas McDONALD (1892-1930), above, in 1917;

    • Alice Grainger McDONALD (1895-1966) = Samuel JONES in Jun 1916;

    • May McDONALD (1898-1993) = Thomas Henry BROOKES in Dec 1916;

    • Sarah McDONALD (1900-1987) = Arthur E PEARSON;

    • Phoebe Ann McDONALD (1903) – nothing more known;

    • Minnie McDONALD (1906-1981) = John J LAWLESS;

    • Mary McDONALD (1908) – nothing more known;

    • Patrick McDONALD (1910) – nothing more known;

  • Phoebe McDONALD (17 Apr 876) =. William PRICE (1873) in Jun 1894 Tipton. Family in 1901 Tipton then moved to Barnsley, YKS;

Part 4: The Third Generation Family Moves from Tipton to Aston, Birmingham (1890 - Early C20th) then
in Aston & Greater Birmingham (from 1930's)

Job MACDONALD (1865 Waterloo Street, Tipton), Furnace worker, married Agnes BODEN (1869 Darralls Buildings, Newtown Row, Aston), brickyard labourer, on 28 Sep 1890 at Tipton PC, both of 12 Workhouse Lane, Tipton. Until 1912, the Workhouse was on the present site of Tipton fire station (junction of Lower Church Road & Alexandra Road). Job died in 1935 & Agnes in 1947 (at 48 Lodge Road, Aston). Job followed the Methodist traditions of his mother. Their children are believed to be (in family story order, confirmed partially by census & BMD records for the survivors):

  • Job MACDONALD (1891 Dudley - 1896 Aston);

  • Louisa MACDONALD (1893-1895 Aston);

  • Enoch MACDONALD (1895-1950) = Gladys May TRUEMAN in Q4 1928 B'ham. They and their children (at least 2) lived in the Perry Common area in the 1930's:

    • William Enoch MACDONALD (Q3 1929 B'ham N) = Joan C R HEATH in Q2 1954 B'ham;

      • Linda MACDONALD (Q4 1956 B'ham) = Craig H J LUMSDEN in 1979 B'ham;

      • Suzanne MACDONALD (Q3 1960 Sutton Coldfield) =1983 B'ham to Anthony S RUNDLE;

      • Alistair James MACDONALD (Q1 1966 Sutton Coldfield) = Karen J EGGINTON July 1990 B'ham;

        • Alexander William MACDONALD (Jan 2000, York);

        • Joshua James MACDONALD (Mar 2002 York);

      • Elizabeth Anne MACDONALD (Q1 1982 Solihull S);

    • Gladys Mary MACDONALD (1935-1994) = Malcolm L DEWERSON;

  • Samuel MACDONALD (1897-1973 B'ham) = Clare Mary PERKINS (1897, Dublin, Ireland - 1969 B'ham) on 1 Aug 1925 Birmingham. The family lived on The Broadway, Handsworth, Birmingham in the 1930's & had children registered both in Birmingham & Stratford on Avon districts in the period. The Stratford children were the result of Clare visiting her aunt for the births (a midwife). While Samuel is registered and used the MAC spelling of the surname, the family relate that Clare insisted on using Mc. Both variations still exist across the branches today. Samuel converted back to Catholicism:

    • John William MACDONALD (1927-1941 B'ham). Killed when his bike got caught in tramlines;

    • Patrick Anthony MACDONALD (1930 Stratford RD) = Anne CORNICK (1935 B'ham) in 1958 B'ham. 4 children in Windsor (Berkshire) & 1 in Surrey. Note: family name has reverted to McDONALD on records from marriage onwards:

      • Adrian McDONALD (1959) = Julia E SACCHI in 1987, Surrey. Children in Bath, SOM:

        • Jonathon McDONALD (1989);

        • Robert McDONALD (1993);

      • Ronan P McDONALD (1961) = Jane, poss. as Anne-Marie J T MARTIN in 1993 Torbay, DEV;

      • Neal McDONALD (1963);

      • Julian McDONALD (1965);

      • Philip McDONALD (1969);

    • Clare Mary MACDONALD (1933 Stratford RD) = John SILVESTER - living in Aston;

  • Twin William Joseph McDONALD (1900-1971) = Nellie Ivy HAMPSHIRE in 1926 West Bromwich, but had no issue due to her epilepsy. They lived in Prestbury Road, Aston in the 1930's;

  • Twin Agnes Gladys McDONALD (1900-01);

  • Edith McDONALD (1904 New Street, B'ham – 1957) = Leonard Albert SANDERS (1904-59) in April 1927 at St James in Aston, my maternal grandparents;

The family were found on the 1901 census in Aston Manor, Birmingham at 12 Court 6 House New Street. Job was a General Labourer. In 1911, the entry at Lodge Road, Aston has the four surviving children Enoch, Samuel, William & Edith. Job was interred at Witton Cemetery, Birmingham on 6 Apr 1935 and Agnes was interred on 29 Apr 1947. Edith was named after the doctor's wife and nicknamed "Doll".


  • Patrick/James was ginger-haired and bearded in the winter to protect his good singing voice, confirmation of his Celtic (perhaps originally Scottish pre/Irish) heritage. He sang Irish ballads and had an Irish accent. Any more ginger heritage passed on through the Mack lines? This webauthor had a mixture of both ginger and blonde elements in his young man's beard, and Patrick Anthony is reported to have had the full red Celtic genes which were also passed on to his third son Julian.

  • Edith recalled her father's brothers used to turn up for tea when she was young. All were broad Black Country and had "shocking" table manners, pointing with their knives and forks for emphasis while talking. When drunk, they would often sing Irish ballads long into the early hours making Edith play the piano. The partying had been known to continue until a neighbour "put a brick through the window". Time period: Probably early 1920's.

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