Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 35.djvu/47
(afterwards General) Alexander Kyd [see under Kyd, Robert] engaged on that duty, be went on to Calcutta, and was sent back to Sumatra as military and civil engineer, with the local rank of captain and the command of the artillery. He became first lieutenant 16 Dec. 1794. He remained in Sumatra until 1796, when, after seventeen years' Indian service, he obtained sick leave home. When in Sumatra be made many maps and charts, which are now in the British Museum, as well as numerous observations on the variation the magnetic needle. These observation repeated at St. Helena, where the small American vessel in which be had taken his passage home remained several months. The observations were communicated to Sir Joseph Banks from time to time, and were afterwards published in the 'Philosophical Magazine.' With permission of the East India Company, he became commandant of the royal Edinburgh voluntary artillery, a corps of pikeman formed from the gentlemen of Edinburgh, for whom he wrote an artillery manual and devised a pike exercise. At the expiration of his furlough he retired on half-pay, 30 July 1800, being previously, in 1799, become major in Lord Macdonald's western fencibles, or regiment of the isles. In June 1800 he was made lieutenant-colonel of the royal Clan Alpine fencible infantry, with which he served in Ireland until it was disbanded in 1801. During the peace of Amiens he visited France ; and he subsequently published translations of several French military works. Mr. Pitt having chosen him as a field-officer for his corps of Cinque ports volunteers, Macdonald took up bis residence at Dover, and soon after made a reconnaissance in an open boat of the preparations for invasion at Bouloulogue. After Pitt's death the Cinque ports volunteers decliDed, and Macdonald's services being no longer needed he removed to Exeter, where be was well known for his charitable works. He devoted much time and pains to the improvement of naval and military telegraphs, his services being acknowledged by the admiralty and the horse guards, but never rewarded. He died at his residence, Southampton Place, Exeter. 16 Aug. 1831, and was buried in Exeter Cathedral under the south tower. Macdonald married, first, the widow of L. Bogle, a Bengal civil servant, by whom he had two children — she died in India ; secondly, after his return home, Frances Maria, oldest daughter of Sir Robert Chambers [q. v.], chief justice of Bengal, by whom he had seven sons and two daughters.
Macdonald, who was made F.R.S. in 1800, and was one of the original members of the Asiatic Society, was a very prolific writer. Among his writings, besides 'The Experienced Officer,' London, 1804, a translation of the Prussian general Wimpffen's letters to his sons, and translations of several French treatises on infantry tactics, nay be mentioned : 1. 'Three Natural Products of Sumatra — Camphor, Coral, and Copper,' in 'Asiatic Researches,' 1795, iv. 19-33. 3. 'On the Discovery of the North- West Magnetic Pole,' and on the 'North- Wast Magnetic Pole,' in Tillooh's 'Philosophical Magazine,' vols. yiii. Ixvii. 3, 'On the Origin and Principle of Sovereign Power, by a Dignitary of the Church, translated from the French,' 1808, 4. 'A New System of Telegraphy,' 1817. 5. 'Experiments with Machine-driven Fuses for Time Signals,' 1819. Natives of India are the surest means of upholding the Stability of our Oriental Empire.' London, 1820. 7. 'A Treatise on Harmonics, being the Theory and Practice of the Violoncello,' 1822. In latter years he sent frequent contributions to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (cf. 1832, pt. i. p. 85).
[Memoir of Lieutenant-colonel John Macdonald, London, 1832. 12moi Antubiography of Flora Macdonald, edited by her grand daughter, F. F. Wylde (London, 1870); Chnmbers's Eminent Scotsmen, vol. iii.; Miles and Dowdenrell's Indian Army Lists; Gent. Mag. 1832, pt. i. pp. 85 650; Brit. Mob, Catalogues Printed Books and Maps; Roy. Soc. Cat. Scient. Papers.]