Generation: A

William McAlister, (Donald)

Born: 1797 Died: 1880
Father: John McAlister, III
Mother: Catherine Donald

Ann Paganie and Georgina Moor


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31Oct1797 - 1May1880. (Maybe 30Oct1797 - 4May1880) .Died Helensborough.

William, John and Jane were sent to Greenoch to be educated. John the young Laird died there of pneumonia, probably, after catching a cold. Thus William became Laird. He was of an adventurous nature. At 18 years he sailed to Newfoundland, where he worked in the fish and whaling industry for a year, returning to Scotland in a sailing ship which after a hazardous voyage was wrecked off Oban in Feb. 1816. After being cared for by friends, he started with two mothers to walk home over snow covered country with guides to lead them, and ultimately arrived at Helensburgh. Later, as he did not want to be Laird of Auchincarroch and farm, he went to Ferrara near Genoa in Italy to work for a firm trading in Jute exported to Dundee. He became Vice Consul of Ferrara in 1832, and was instrumental in saving the city from the Austrians by raising a ransom through his banker friends.

He changed his name in 1855 to McAlister Donald when he inherited Lylston Estate from his Mother's family. He was married twice, first to an Italian Lady, by whom he had a daughter who married an Italian Count, and secondly Georgina Moor in 1853, by whom he had four children [?]: Rev. Duncan Donald, who became Minister at Moulin. He married Frances Strathy of Toronto. The others were George, Sarah, Georgina and Eliza. William and his wife and Georgina are buried in Cardross cemetery.

RHM: I do not know the origins of this document. I typed it from a version written out by MBM. I have had difficulty interpreting family and place names, so that the spelling below needs to be checked!

Memoirs of William McAlister (Donald)

William McAlister, assumed Donald 1852 on death of my Aunt, Mrs. Donald of Lyleston, who was life rented in the Estate entailed to me in 1824.

As I had only one son, and as he was living so much on the continent, and might not survive my daughters, I considered it prudent were such an event to take place to break the entail so as to be able to leave the estate to my daughters and which I effected in 1876.

My great Grandfather born 7May1716 and died 31Dec1797. My father born 13Apr762 and died 26Jan1832.

I was the second son, my brother John, the young Laird, was endowed with much talent and was an excellent scholar, being always at the head of his classes. In gymnastics he was first rate and excelled in all sorts of athletic sports and was of a cheerful disposition. Every attention was turned to his education, calculating that one day he was destined to represent the family, my father holding two properties in Bonhill Parish, Auchincarroch and Mill of Haldane and two in Kilmarnoch Parish, Blairnyle and Auchinfrech. [spelling].

My mother, Catherine Donald of Lyleston was the daughter of William Donald and Susan Allen, sister to Rev. John Allen, Minister of Row [spelling]. From a reference to our family register, which goes back to 1600, it would appear that country lairds did not go far from here in search of wives as a great many intermarried in the Donalds, as for example, the Ewings, Gulses, Yuilles, Edmistones, Buchanans, Smiths, Cummings, Watsons [spelling] all belonging to Cardross, Row or Roseneath Parishes, and Robert Donald of Mounblew [spelling], my Great Uncle, Provost of Glasgow in 1770 married his full cousin, Kate Donald. Most of these marriages took place from 1732 - 1793.

As I, different from my brother, showed little inclination to study, and being a cadet and less fortunate in every way, very little attention or interest was taken regarding me. I was continually told I should go abroad and push my way in the world.

I was born on 30Oct1797 and in our early days we had a private tutor at home, a Mr. Colquhoun, and afterwards a Mr. McInnes. However in 1808 we were sent to Greenock, the schools there being considered superior to any in the immediate neighbourhood. After two years my father purchased a small cottage there at a place called Holmscroft and my eldest sister Susan came and kept house for us, where we were very happy till my brother John caught a severe inflammation caused by overheating himself in cricket playing and died in 1811, when we all returned home to Auchincarroch. As I was now considered the young laird, I was indulged in every way and after a few months was sent to school in Dunbarton which I attended every day and which was distant from Auchincarroch about five miles. When weather was wet and roads bad, I was allowed to take the pony "Pomfrey" and rode to and from school. However I disliked school and had no inclination to study, except to learn a little French under Mr. Findlay. I made no progress, and many a time in place of going to school took a ride elsewhere, and got well punished on returning home.

This sort of life went on for a few years and as during this time I associated much with the tenants and servants who would be continually telling me that as "I was the young laird" and did not require to bother myself by going to school, so that at last I got quite uncontrollable and unhappy, working mischief and receiving punishment.

At last I determined to leave home and go abroad. To carry out my purpose I went over to Greenoch, where I had many relations and acquaintances, and requested Mr. Alexander Miller and James Ewing of Keffoch, cousins of my mother, to send me the their establishment in St John's Newfoundland. Their firm was Ewing, Miller and Co. and at St. John's Miller, Fergus and Co. I was content to go on any condition that they would prescribe and I had only to get permission from my father and mother.

When I returned to Auchincarroch to get their consent, they at first refused, but when they saw that I was determined to go, they reluctantly yielded to my desire and provided me with a handsome outfit and in the Spring of 1815 I sailed from the Tail of the Boole [?] in one of the company's ships for St. John's Newfoundland and remained there till 1818.

I had a very hard life there, as the "Youngster" slave of the establishment. During the four years I remained at St. John's where the inhabitants were most part Irish there occurred two revolutionary movements when the town was in a state of anarchy.

On 24Dec1818 I left St. John's in a small vessel of about 500 tons for Liverpool, cutting our way out of the harbour, which was covered with ice. Our crew consisted of Captain, mate, and 8 seamen. There were three passengers, James Fergus, my master, James Ewing Young of Kuffoch and myself. Cargo was cod liver oil and dried cod. After a stormy passage for 28 days tossed in the Atlantic, wet and only snow to drink, four crew died and frostbite and sufferings of all were beyond description. On 26Jan1819 we were were cast ashore at Oban. Mr. Alex Stevens who had been in our office in Newfoundland took us in and looked after us. After 8 - 10 days we were able to walk about and in the course of a week we undertook the journey to our respective homes. The ground was covered with snow to a depth of several inches and at this season no coach or conveyance from Oban to Inverary or Arrochar, so we had to walk all the distance, taking a guide from place to place until we reached Helensborough, where Fergus and Ewing took a small boat to Greenoch while I transferred to Lyleston.

After being at home and finding that I was a "fish out of water" I went to Greenoch and called on Mr. Allen Ker, a cousin of my mothers of the firm of Allan Ker and Co., and enquired if he had an opening for me. Several were available but one in French interested me. I embarked on "Comet" on 17Apr1819 and after a pleasant voyage of 40 days we reached Lisbon and after staying a week there went to Florence and Bologna. When in Florence in company with Mr. Watt of Greenoch and a Mr. Stokes of London we called on Lord Byron. I proceeded to Ferrara and Venice and by boat to Trieste.

On 17Jun1819 I met Mr. Moor, grandson of Sir George Moore of Ballamore, Isle of Man and Speaker of House of Kings. He being a leading partner in well known banking firm of Moore, Corruch and Co., Glasgow. Mr. Moore invited me to dine, as he had a small party that day at home. Before we sat down to dinner a female infant was brought in and baptised Georgina. After a lapse of 34 years she became my wife and God blessed us with two sons and three daughters. Duncan born 1854, Sarah 1857, George 1855, Georgina 1858 (died 14Mar1921) and Eliza 1860.

I was married in Trieste in 1822 to a Miss Ann Paganie, who died in 1824 after giving birth to my daughter Mary, who in 1843 married Count ? Rasfi at Ferrara.

A few months after my arrival at Trieste Mr. James Lang left for England and left me in charge of his business and did not return for two years, having formed a partnership with a Mr. Basel Freeland, trading in hemp. Bought an old palace cheap from family Lodorceo Cruesto and for a few hundred pounds put it in order.

1831 - 1832. State of unrest in Country. I applied to Lord Palmerston through Mr. John Park, our Consul General at Ancona to be appointed H.M. Vice Consul at Ferrara, which place was conceded to me on 3Jan1832. Consequently I had the British Arms put over my door as a safeguard against any molestation. In that year the French under General Udernot took Ancona and the Austrians Bologna. I was often called on to exert myself in making up quarrels between Austrians and our colleagues. In 1835 Cholera broke out in Trieste, Venice. In 1849 we assured at Ferrara a Republican Government and town and provinces were in a state of anarchy. The Austrian troops left possession of the fortress and they fled.

I have lived among Italians for 32 years and can testify that I have ever found them a kind and disinterested people under a bad government.

Tomb Stone at Cardross:

William Macalister Donald of Lyleston Died 1st May 1880 aged 82 years and Georgina Moor his wife Died 7th Oct 1896 aged 77 years and Georgina their daughter Died 14th March 1921 aged 62 years.

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