MacDonald of Sleat Places & People

Clan MacDonald of Sleat People

Sire John Alexander MacDonald (1815-91)
After his crofting family had been evicted from their Dornoch home, Sir John was born in George Street, Glasgow, where his family lived for a further five years before emigrating to Canada. He studied law at Kingston, Ontario and entered the Provincial Assembly as a Conservative, becoming its leader in 1844, a position he retained almost exclusively for forty-five years.

The greatest of his achievements is undoubtedly his part in creating the British North America Act of 1867, which brought the separate, distrusting colonies together as a federal dominion of Canada, becoming its first Premier.

Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald (1853-1903)
Born in Dingwall, this crofter’s son worked in a drapery shop before joining the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, where he would ascend from foot soldier to the rank of Major-General, a hard-fought climb in a time when such positions were reserved for the aristocracy.

MacDonald’s fighting skills were recognised first during the Second Afghan War, where he became the heroic ‘Fighting Mac’. Returning to India as a 2nd Lieutenant, he showed his mettle again at Majuba.

He was the hero of the British once again during his time in Egypt and the Sudan from 1883 until 1899. As Major-General or the Highland Brigade in 1900, he led the Brigade in the Boer War.

In 1902, whilst army commander in Ceylon, the Governor-General received ‘an opprobrious accusation’ made against MacDonald. Early in the following year, in a Paris hotel room whilst on leave, MacDonald shot himself. To his memory the people of Dingwall erected their hero a great tower.
James Ramsay MacDonald


James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937)
Mary Ramsay gave birth to her son in her mother’s two-roomed Lossiemouth home. Her lover had been a MacDonald from the Black Isle who worked as a ploughman. By the time James Ramsay MacDonald was sixteen he was so well read he was given the position of pupil and teacher at his Drainie Board School.

After his first experience of socialism whilst in Bristol, he moved to London and joined the Fabian Society. As a journalist he assisted the Social Democratic Federation and in 1894, after writing to Keir Hardie, was admitted to the Independent Labour Party, standing in Southampton as their candidate the following year.

By 1906 he was the MP for Leicester and his talents as an orator and organiser carried him to the top job by 1911. His pacifist views had him resign his position in opposition to the First World War. He later changed his opinion on Britain’s war involvement but he had lost the support of his voters and consequently in 1918 lost his seat also.

In the following election however, he represented the socialist of Aberavon and was returned to Westminster and the leadership of the Labour Party.

In 1923 Labour won the election and James Ramsay MacDonald was Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister. He held the post on another two occasions, from 1929-31 and 1931-5. The latter term, in coalition with the Conservatives, saw him govern with little forwarding of socialism for the needy population and the end of this association with the Red Clydesiders who had supported him greatly in the past.

This was won from him by Emmanuel Shinwell in 1935.

James MadDonald (1906-91)
Born in Dundee and brought up in Philadelphia, James MacDonald is heard world-wide but never seen. He gained employment as a drummer at the Walt Disney Studios and using his percussive abilities he created such sound effects as Snow White’s waterfall and Alice in Wonderland’s shimmering cobwebs.

He was also purling for Pinocchio’s whale and yodelling for the Seven Dwarfs.

When Walt Disney would not longer provide the distinctive voice of his premier character after 1947, MacDonald became the new Mickey Mouse.