Macdonald, John (d.1850) (DNB00)

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MACDONALD, Sir JOHN (d. 1850), adjutant-general at the horse guards, a connection of Flora Macdonald [q. v.], the Jacobite heroine, entered the army 15 April 1795, as ensign 89th foot, and. became lieutenant the regiment 2 Feb. 1796, and captain 22 Oct. 1H03. He was made a major-unattached 28 Feb. 1805, lieutenant-colonel on half-pay of the 1st garrison battalion 17 March 1808, brevet colonel 4 June 1814, major-general 1825, and lieutenant-general 1838. He served with the 89th in the Irish rebellion in 1798, and afterwards in Minorca, Heasina, and at the blockade of Malts and capture of Valetta in 1799-1800, and throughout the campaign in Egypt in 1801. His qualifications for the staff were early recognised, and in the strict and temper-trying-school of Lord Cathcatt [see Cathcart, Sir William Schaw, Earl Cathcart] he acquired the tact and accuracy that made him one of the best military secretaries of his day. He was brigade-major to Lord Cathcart in the home district in 1805, and military secretary when Cathcart was in command of the king's German legion as a separate army, in Swedish Pomerania (isle of Rugen), in 1806-7 ; and subsequently during the expedition to Copenhagenin in 1807. He was deputy adjutant-general to Sir John Hope [see Hope, John, fourth Earl of Hopetoun] at Wolcheren ; and held the same post with Lieutenant-general Thomas Graham [see Graham, Thomas, Lord Lynedoch] at Codii and at the battle of Barossa (gold medal). He was military secretary to his intimate friend Sir John Hope (Lord Hopetoun) when commander-in-chief at Ireland in 1812, embarked with him at Cork for the Peninsula, and was his assistant: adjutant-general with the left wing of Wellington's army in the South of France during the campaigns of 1813-14, including the battles on the Nive, 9-13 Nov. 1813. and the against Bayonne in 1814. When Hope was wounded and taken prisoner by the French sortie of 14 Aprd 1814. Macdonald obtained leave to enter Bayonne to nurse his wounded friend.

Macdonald (whose name is spelled M'Donald in earlier army lists) was deputy adjutant-general at the horse guards under the Dukes of York and Wellington from 1820 to 1830. He was appointed adjutant-general 27 July 1830, and held the post until his death. 'He did not exercise power— and at one time it was almost unlimited over the army — as a mere machine . . . His official demeanour was courteous and kind, and his sincerity and candour were seldom found to border on abruptness or roughness, and never on rudeness or insult' (Nav. and Mil. Gazette, 30 March 1850, p. 200). Macdonald was an excellent minute writer, and most of the ablest papers that issued from the horse guards during his service there were understood to be from his pen (cf. Wellington Correspondence, viii. 53). Macdonald was made C.B. 4 June 1815, K.C.B. in 1827, G.C.B. in 1847. He was appointed colonel of the 67th foot, of Barossa fame, in 1828, and colonel of the 42nd royal highlanders 15 March 1844. He died at his residence, Bruton Street, London, 28 March 1850, and was buried at Kensal Green. A brother, Lieutenant-general Alexander Macdonald, C.B., royal artillery, died in 1854. Macdonald married a daughter of Charles Graham of Williamsfield, Jamaica, by whom he left issue.

[Hart's Army Lists; Nav. and Mil. Gazette, 30 March 1850, pp. 199–200; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 726.]

H. M. C.