John Oliver MACDONALD(32) was the seventh of eleven children of James MACDONALD(1150) and Isabella THOMSON (1151). He was born at his father's house, 17 Windsor Street, Edinburgh, on 23 Jul 18811 . According to his, and his siblings', birth records, James MACDONALD and Isabella THOMSON were married on 05 Sep 1871 at Tain, in Ross and Cromarty, and the marriage register2 shows that his father was 28 and his mother 22 when they married. His paternal grandparents were James MACDONALD, a bookseller, and Jane MACFARLANE. His maternal grandparents were James David THOMSON, a teacher, and Margaret BLACKLOCK. James MACDONALD was described as a solicitor at the Supreme Courts on both his marriage register entry and on his children's birth entries.

Since I have their birth dates from the Scotlandspeople website, the full list of the children of James MACDONALD and Isabella THOMSON is:

John MACDONALD was at his father's residence at 17 Windsor Street, Edinburgh, in the 1891 Scotland census3, together with all his siblings. He was aged 9 and attending school. Ten years later he was no longer at home. A possible, though perhaps unlikely, entry in the 1901 census has a John O. Macdonald, aged 20, at Longforgan in Perthshire described as an apprentice paper maker4.

At some stage, John Macdonald started working for the Bridport rope and net maker Joseph Gundry and Co., a firm which had its origins in the mid-17th century. A recent book5 mentions that from 1908 he was employed by that firm as general manager, which would suggest that he may already have been working for them for some time.

Now established, on 07 Apr 19106 he married one of my maternal grandmother's sisters, Mary RIDDEL(29). The following year, at the 1911 census7 John and his wife of less than a year were at Bowhayes, Bothenhampton, Crock Lane, Bridport, Dorset, and he was described as a manager, fishing nets, lines and twine. They were both 29, and had one servant, Mathilda STONE.

John and Mary at Roundham

At some stage they moved to a house called Roundham (nowadays Roundham House Hotel). The photograph above, of unknown date, shows them together with Mary's mother Emily (who died in 1929) on the porch. Their visitors book from their time at Roundham is, I believe, amongst the family papers.

Shortly after WW1 began, Gundry's decided to convert to a private limited company, effective from March 1915. John Oliver MACDONALD was appointed as managing director at £700 a year plus 15% of the profit. By 1920, John owned 20% of the shares, which replaced his percentage of the profits8.

On John MACDONALD's retirement, towards the end of the 1940s, he and Mary moved back to the town of his birth, Edinburgh, and lived at 127 Grange Loan. This was still his usual residence when he died on 24 Apr 1954 in the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh9. His entry in the deaths register describes him as a net manufacturer (retired). Basically he died of old age. The informant was his brother James Harold, whose address is given as Goodtrees, Kinellan Road, Edinburgh. He was survived by his wife Mary, who died in 1959. They had no children.


1) Births in the District of St Andrew, Edinburgh, p.253, no.757, Statutory births 685/02 0757, through Scotlandspeople.
2) Marriages in the Parish of Tain, County of Ross, p.5, no.10, Statutory Marriages 082/00 0010, through Scotlandspeople.
3) 1891 Scotland census, transcription through, accessed 12 Nov 2014.
4) 1901 Scotland census, Enumeration District 1, Household Schedule 68, Roll CSSCT1901-122, through, accessed 12 Nov 2014.
5) Rope, Net & Twine - The Bridport Textile Industry, by Richard Sims: The Dovecote Press Ltd., Stanbridge, Wimborne Minster, Dorset, 2009.
6) The day and month of this marriage are in the birthday book of Mary's mother, Emily RIDDEL, n&eqcute;e HOLINGER. The marriage was registered at Chorlton, Lancashire in the Jun quarter of 1910, vol. 8c, p.1496.
7) 1911 England census, Bridport, Registration District 267, ED 2, household schedule 59, piece 12477, through, accessed 12 Nov 2014.
8) See note 5 above.
9) Deaths in the District of George Square, Edinburgh, p.215, no.645.

© John Stowell 2014             This file last edited on 12 November 2014.