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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, Staffordshire and the West Midlands of England) & wider-ranging descendants of Luke & Mary McDONALD/MACDONALD, my 3xGGPs (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 Mc D* (with space) which can make finding records difficult.

 I would be delighted to contact any cousins to share stories and photos of the family. Today's families have adopted either McDONALD or MacDONALD for various reasons and the family synopsis below tries to honour those adopted spellings. Many modern generations have been unaware of their Irish roots, falsely assuming they were Scottish. Being of Irish origins, the family may have had other spellings in their home country such as plain DONNELL and the anglicized form now used by English descendants may be adopted or standardized, misrepresenting the families’ true Irish name. This research was reviewed & updated in January 2017.

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ii. Historical Perspective

There are two possible origins in Ireland for the family, with Irish roots confirmed on the 1851 census in Tipton, Staffordshire, for family patriarch Luke. The first is that they are Irish DONNELLs or O’DONNELLs (descendants of one of Ireland’s most famous warrior kings, Niall of the Nine Hostages) or they are Scots Irish. Both histories suggest the family probably has Irish origins in the province of Ulster. The O’DONNELL clan originated in Ulster but there were also septs, or branches, in Clare and Galway.

The Clan Donald is of Celtic origins. 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 and put to work on English-owned plantations. 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. There were numerous smaller famines leading up to main famine of the 1840’s that may have prompted emigration to seek work elsewhere. Luke was an agricultural labourer.

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 (a few generations). Enquiries along all family lines have failed to provide stories of pre-Tipton roots. However, currently Ulster and Scots Irish is assumed based on Mc always being used throughout English records (rather than O’). Based on their baptism records and marriage in England, the family are assumed to be Protestants rather than Irish Catholic. The family patriarch’s name of Luke is unusual, and certainly not a Catholic name. Despite this, records in Ireland are absent.

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

Luke McDONALD, my 3xGGF (born c1799 based on age at death in 1853) and Mary his wife (born c1803 in 1841, c1793 based on age of death in 1846) were probably married in Ireland around 1821 (marriage sought). Luke was an Agricultural Labourer / 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. The later marriages in Mountmellick, County Laois for a Luke McDONALD & Mary (1824 & 1830) have been eliminated.

They arrived in the Midlands area by Nov 1822. Mary had been heavily pregnant with their first child, John McDONALD. They probably arrived from Ireland, via Liverpool, during late Oct or early Nov 1822, 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, Staffordshire, which is a Protestant church.

Baptism of John at Stone St Michael in Nov 1822

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 Wood Street, Tipton. Unfortunately, no other family baptisms have been located. In 1851 Luke & son John, a Puddler (only) were in the same household in Wood Street and recorded as McDONOUGH. The 1851 census provides a number of important clues, although they have not resulted in additional discoveries. The household of Luke & John confirms that Luke was born in Ireland and that his son John was born in Warrington. As the first son, by tradition, he would have been named after Luke’s father.

1851 census taken at Wood Street, Tipton

It is likely the early family were in the agricultural communities of present-day Telford, Shropshire in the period 1828-1832 since the 1851 census record each for son Patrick (aka James) has him born in Wellington (Salop) & his sister Mary Ann in Oakengates (neighbouring villages), before defaulting to Tipton STS or Dudley, WOR for the remainder. No Shropshire baptisms have been found. The 1851 census has Mary Ann and her family (now married as AKINS, recorded as HAKINES) living next door to her father & brother. They were all lodging with other Irish families in Wolverhampton Street, Dudley by 1841, probably transiting from the poorer rural economy to the rapidly expanding industrial Black Country. Once settled in Tipton & Aston (Birmingham) and well into the C20th the family were referred to as "MACK" for short.

Part 2: The First-Generation Tipton Family (c1841 - 1853)

In 1841 Dudley, the family were at Wolverhampton Street as “MACKDONK with several other families of Irish name spelled phonetically; all Agricultural Labourers. This included a possible relative of Luke, Thomas MACKDONK (35), his wife Florence (24) and children Thomas (4) & James (1). 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 or a pet name referring to his Irish origins. If not a Catholic, then it is unlikely to be a Catholic saints' name or additional baptismal name. 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". Following Irish naming tradition, the 2nd son named after his father. See additional note, below;

·       James McDONALD (aka Patrick McDONALD c1829) - 11 years on original - born in county (Dudley, WOR, but incorrectly indexed as aged 4). Following Irish naming tradition, he would be named after the mother’s father;

·       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 unusual stories that Mary Ann's maiden name was LUNN, however this does not match BMD or McDONALD family data. It may refer to her mother;

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. Note:

Ø  John McDONALD (1822) was apparently unmarried in 1851 and last known in 1853 Tipton as informant 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 as John disappears from records;

Ø  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 researcher 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 having similar naming pattern to siblings). No further information has been provided to support this being the same Luke from Tipton;

Ø  Relationship of Thomas MACKDONK to Luke (as a brother) is only assumed based on 1841 census (in same accommodation for Irish labourers). It is interesting to note that some Staffordshire-born (Hanley) McDONALDs are later recorded lodging with a Tipton BLUNT family in 1891 Hoyland, Yorkshire (McDONALD-ATKINS-ANDREWS-BLUNT female line through Luke’s daughter Mary Ann). Research indicates this McDONALD line goes back to a Bernard McDONALD & Catherine FREEMAN who married in Louth in 1844 and settled in Hanley prior to 1851 via Scotland, so the 1891 census appears to be just coincidence. No later records have been found to support Thomas & his family. The parent ages may be as inaccurate as those recorded for Luke & Mary;

Map of Tipton


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

James/Patrick McDONALD (aka Patsy McDONNER upon marriage), my 2xGGF (c1828/9), Coalminer, married Phebe/Phoebe WHITEHOUSE on 29 Oct 1849 at Dudley parish church, given both of Castle Street, Dudley. One witness was Mary Ann McDONNER, assumed to be 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, however there is no evidence to support his religion. 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 customer’s debts that were put "on the slate".

On census returns the family were living in Tipton in 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 and not entirely clear why it was recorded that way. 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 Jun 1851, 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 record 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. The future for Millicent after her husband’s death in unclear. It is possible she is the 1940 death at Wednesbury (where her son Thomas’ family lived), if her age was mistranscribed from 71 to 91. While appearing in census, her birth does not appear to be registered. Tipton children include:

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

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

o   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. 3 sons:

§  Stewart Jon MACDONALD (1977 Bromsgrove) = Samantha R ALLEN in 2000, then possibly Colette I;

§  Ross Peter MACDONALD (1980 Dudley) = Kylie;

§  Craig Alan MACDONALD (1983 Dudley);

§  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);

o   Phoebe McDONALD (1894-1991 Indiana, USA) = Charles Henry STEPHENS (1889 Handsworth-1965) in 1915 Tipton. They emigrated in 1921 and settled in Lake County, Indiana;

o   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;

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

o   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 and between and older and younger sibling. Mary Ann is the d/o Thomas. The 1911 census is filled out by the householder for the first time, so highly unlikely it will be an error by the father;

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

o   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:

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

o   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 because of their father's early death. Annie remarried to John Thomas ROGERS in 1939 Wednesbury and died there the following year.

o   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 or mining accident?

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

§  Albert McDONALD (1922) nothing more known;

o   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;

o   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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o   Mary McDONALD (1908) – nothing more known;

o   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:

o   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);

o   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, following the Irish spelling, but it is unknown if she knew of the family’s Irish origins. Both variations still exist across the branches today. Samuel converted to Catholicism to marry Clare:

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

o   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);

o   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".


Ø  Patrick/James was reported to be ginger-haired and bearded in the winter to protect his good singing voice, confirmation of his Celtic heritage. He sang Irish ballads and had an Irish accent. Any more ginger heritage passed on through the Mack lines? This researcher 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.

Ø  Edith recalled her father's brothers used to turn up for tea when she was young. All of them 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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