One Name Study – William McDonald

Do you have one of those names in your family tree, one that everyone else seems to have, too? I do. It’s William McDonald. Actually, I have three in my direct family line and a few others scattered amongst the branches.

Let’s see, there’s William McDonald, son of Mary Robichaud and Alexander McDonald, who was born around 1793 at Harrigan Cove though he was baptised August 7, 1793 at Christ Church, Shelburne County, NS. His father had settled in or near Shelburne after the war in the States. Alexander had been a foot soldier and instead of returning to his home country of Scotland decided to put down roots right here. For some reason, he relocated sometime before William’s birth and settled at Harrigan Cove, Halifax County on the Eastern Shore.

William married some lady by the name of Martha. After years of searching, I still have not found the poor woman’s proper name. And that irks me to no end. Records before 1846 (when they married, if they officially married) are scattered and difficult to locate.

Not much is known of William, nothing concrete anyway. In the 1838 Census for Halifax County, I’m certain, but not absolutely positive, I found Martha and William but their last name is spelt McDannel. William’s a farmer and has five kids, all younger than 14.

Martha and William had at least one other child after 1838 which brings me to the next William on my list: William Aaron McDonald.

William Aaron McDonald was born September 5, 1847 (or 1846) at Bay of Islands, Eastern Shore, NS. That’s the area between East Quoddy and Ecum Secum. More to the point, it’s Harrigan Cove. He married Jane Baker on October 7, 1867 at St. Mary’s River. Together they had six children between 1870 and 1886: John William, Simon, Samuel, Effie Bell, Harriett (Mattie, who married William Henry McDonald) and Eva Selina (my grandmother).

William Aaron died between 1886 (birth of his youngest child) and 1891 (1891 Census). I know it’s difficult at the best of times to find a death record for someone in this time period but his common name makes it that much more challenging.

His son, John William Mc/MacDonald, went by his first name most of the time, but … don’t get me started on John McDonald though; that’s another kettle of fish.

Most of the information I find when I search for William Mc/MacDonald doesn’t apply to anyone in my family. I’m certain many other McDonald researchers run up against the same stone walls. Over the years, I’ve kept some of it, but for the most part, I’ve discarded it.

However, recently, I decided to keep a profile for every William McDonald I come across – related or not. It’s a small project I’ll keep adding to over the coming years that will hopefully help me and other researchers in their quest for information on William McDonald.

To see the profiles compiled so far, click on the McDonald link above.

8 thoughts on “One Name Study – William McDonald

  1. Well good luck with your MacDonald project. I certainly can understand your frustration about births and marriages prior tp 1850. Have fun

    • Thanks, Wally. I’ve been led on many goose-chases with this family line and it’s no surprise. They were people who didn’t talk much or share their history. They were the strong, silent type. My father was the same way. So when basic information is not passed through word-of-mouth down the generations, it makes it harder still to locate missing relatives.

      Incredibly, I found Samuel McDonald, my grandmother’s brother, buried in the same cemetery my Tibert/Tipert relatives are buried in New Germany. I’d been to the cemetery many times looking for the Tibert branch, but I never dreamt he was there; he was born and lived in Liscomb Mills and as far as I knew had no connection with the South Shore.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Nicely put! I certainly understand your frustration and have several members in my “branches” who have also followed the same naming pattern. What is even made more difficult is that some have used their “middle” names on certain documents and their 1st name on other documents. Most particularly difficult for me has been my 4 generations of “Matthew Walker”; 3 generations of “Robert Walker” and “Charles Walker” and 2 generations of William Walker; but the winner of “pulling my hair out” contest has been the 3 generation of “George Samuel Walker” who all used their middle names in social surroundings and on some documents (census and marriage records) but their first name on others (ie death certificates). To make matters even more complicated they all lived in the same area (Halifax); some even neighbours.

    Again, nicely put and written.

    • Thank you, Jane. I’m happy — no, relived — these types of naming patterns are less popular. Even during the time these people lived, their common names must have caused confusion. My father is named Stephen and my oldest brother was named after him. As if this wasn’t enough, my sister married a Stephen who had the same middle name as my oldest brother. When I began dating a Steve in my early twenties, I knew it couldn’t work. That would have made four in the immediate family. 🙂

      In the Tibert family line, their favourite name was John. In one family, all seven boys were named after their father, John, and went by their middle names most of the time, all except the son John who had no middle name.

      When researching, I squeal with glee with I come across a family member with a unique name such as Primadine. There’s no doubt where they fit in.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment.

  3. Greetings. As this is my first posting I might be in the wrong area of the site.
    If so, maybe the moderator can move location.
    Any information on the the following would be most appreciated in relation to my past family tree
    related to Norah Mc’Donald

    My great grandfather William Teeling (born in Dublin Ireland1853 – died1915 in IIfracome Devon, England) Traveled to Nova Scotia and met my great grandmother
    Norah Mc’Donald of Sambro, Nova Scotia (born 1858 – 1943 died in IIfracombe, Devon England)

    Sometime after their marriage they moved to England and had a son William E Teeling born 7 January 1883
    in Falmouth Cornwall England -died 1940 in Queen Elizabeth Hospital England.
    William married Sarah Butler born 1883 – died 1978 in Dudley Road Hospital Birmingham England ( they are my grand parents) They lived in Plymouth England before moving to Bearwood near Birmingham England

    Kind Regards
    John Simkin

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