Descendants of Donald McDougall of Fortingall


The McDougall side of the family lived in Fortingall and Kenmore Parishes in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The name is prevalent along the Scottish west coast, but there were small offshoots elsewhere and upper Tayside supported several communities. Some historians think that the district was populated by McDougalls from the west coast as early as the 14th Century. In 1368 King David Bruce is said to have granted Glenlyon to John MacDougall and his wife (the king's niece). In 1372 the grant was confirmed to MacDougall himself.


Donald McDougall

Although there was a permanent community of McDougalls on the south side of Loch Tay, there were several McDougall families in Fortingall parish on the north side. The most notable of these lived at the hamlets of Blairish and Easter Drumcharry. At the latter, during the 1750s and 1760s, there seem to have been three such families at Easter Drumcharry. Confusingly, they were all headed by a Donald McDougall.

Kathrin, born to Donald McDougall and Janet McDonald, was baptised here on 12 January 1749. On the same day, Hugh, son of Donald McDougall and Elspet McFarlane, was also baptised.  Eleven years later, on 15 January 1760, John McDougall, son of Donald McDougall and Kathrin Anderson, was baptised at Easter Drumcharry. The last-born of this family, Peter McDougall, emigrated to Canada and his story can be found by clicking the link.


It is assumed that the ancestors of our McDougalls were Donald McDougall and Janet McDonald for the following reasons.

Five of their six children were born at Easter Drumcharry between 1749 and 1763. The exception, Hugh, was born in 1751 at nearby Balnacraig.  At some time between 1763 and 1769, the family moved to the farm of Borland, near the hamlet of Fernan, a fertile pocket on the north shore of the loch in Kenmore parish. This was where Hugh’s children were born.  But by 1769, when John Farquharson had completed his Survey of the lands bordering Loch Tay, Donald had died: a note in Book 2 states that Borland was possessed by three ploughs – those of John, Donald and Duncan McGrigor, Duncan Robertson and Donald McDugal's widow.


The children of this marriage were as follows:

Kathrin, baptised 12 January 1749.

Hugh, baptised 2 August 1751

Isabell, baptised 12 January 1758

Donald, baptised 30 July 1758

[these last two may have been twins who were baptised separately;

alternatively, Isabell may have been born much earlier and baptised late;

Donald probably died in infancy]

Donald, baptised 19 September 1760

Janet, baptised 27 February 1763


The other two McDougall families at Easter Drumcharry in the 1750s continued to produce children beyond 1769; since our Donald McDougall was dead by that time, they may be discounted as ancestors.


If this is the correct family, we may guess Donald’s and Janet’s parents using the Scottish naming convention: thus Donald McDougall’s parents may have been Hugh and Isabell, while Janet McDonald’s may have been Donald and Kathrin.


Hugh McDougall

He was baptised on 2 August 1751 at Balnacraig to Donald McDougall & Janet McDonald. He married Mary Ferguson, who came from Auchtarra, just across the parish boundary in Fortingall, on 6 April 1775. There are baptism records for two of the couple’s children - Catherine, born in 1776 and Dougal, born in 1788 - that show they were born in Borland.


Alexander McDougall

Alexander was born around 1780, probably in Borland. He married Ann McGregor in 1810, taking up the tenancy of a small farm at Cuiltrannach on the steep slopes of Ben Lawers around 1812. At least seven children, four of them girls, were born at the farm and baptised by the Minister of the little Church of Lawers, by the loch shore. Alexander spent the rest of his long life at Cuiltrannach. The farm was 4 acres in extent and can only have provided a meagre living. He probably supplemented his income by making and repairing shoes - when he died in 1867 at the age of 86, his occupation was given as Shoemaker. When his son got married two years later, he had been elevated to the title of Master Shoemaker! His wife Ann kept going on the farm, perhaps with her son Alexander’s help. At some time in the 1870s, she moved across Loch Tay to a farm at Shenlarich. Her son, who had married Jean McNab in 1869, was tenant of the farm. Ann died in 1882. She was probably aged 95, although her son must have convinced the Registrar that she was 100 years old.


Alexander McDougall’s children

Nothing is known of Alexander and Ann’s first, third and sixth children, Mary, Hugh and Ann.


Catherine, his second child, was a Dressmaker who married John McLaren and died in Glasgow in 1889.


Janet was born around 1818 and it was her son David’s genealogical trail that provided the key to tracing the rest of the family. Janet married a cattle dealer called John Davidson and David was born in 1835 at Cuiltrannach. However, David Davidson’s death register entry refers to John as his “reputed” father. Janet must have been a fearsome woman - she saw off John and two more husbands before she herself died in Glasgow in 1883. In Falkirk, in 1843, she had met and married James McCormick, a mason’s labourer, and a son, Duncan, was born 5 years later. When James died, she married William Duncan, a commercial traveller, and moved to Glasgow. David Davidson remained in Edinburgh and set himself up as a Spirit Dealer in Canongate. This occupation probably promoted his early death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1881. His Inventory lists a loan of £40 made to his uncle Alexander McDougall in Shenlarich. Perhaps he also helped to set up his cousin, Alexander McDougall, in the spirits business. The two men were evidently close enough for David to witness Alexander’s Will in 1874.



Without David Davidson, the McDougall family’s ancestry could not have been traced. This is because there were few confirmed sightings of Duncan in the Scottish censuses and his death entry was particularly hard to find. He was baptised at Lawers on January 6 1821 and next appears in two marriage registers: an entry in the Falkirk register for 4 December 1843 is slightly more informative than that for Edinburgh on the same date. It says that Duncan was a Resident of Falkirk while Jane Watson, his bride, was from Edinburgh. They were married at Portsburgh Vennel church (off the Grassmarket) in Edinburgh. He was a Waiter. There may have been a degree of haste about the wedding, because their daughter Mary had probably been born in the town the previous month, perhaps as early as 4 November. Jane died “suddenly” in 1854 when the couple were living at Crawford’s Close in the Grassmarket.

Duncan’s was not a particularly common name in a Scottish east coast city and two references in trade directories may well be his. A D. McDougall was listed in the 1842-43 PO Directory for Edinburgh and Leith at 3 Bath Place. And in 1850, a Duncan McDougall was a Spirit Merchant at 14 Dock Place, North Leith (1850-51 PO Directory). However, in the 1851 Census, a Duncan McDougall was listed in Glasgow. There is a case for supposing that this might be our Duncan: there was a daughter, Mary, a son, John and a wife, Jane (the eldest son, Alexander, is known to have been staying with his grandparents at the time); his occupation was Waiter in a Hotel. But while the children’s names and ages are correct, everyone was recorded as being born in Edinburgh. This family has not been found in the 1861 Census.

The only confirmed census sighting of Duncan comes in the 1871 Census for Glasgow. He appears in Struthers Street, just north of the river, along with a wife called Agnes and a young daughter, also called Agnes. He was a Labourer born in Perthshire. He had married Agnes Shorthouse, a farmer’s daughter from Kinross, the previous year. Whether he was the 9-year-old Agnes’s father or not is open to question – there are no recorded births of an Agnes McDougall in Glasgow.

Duncan died in Glasgow in 1880. He was a Rivet Work Labourer. An intriguing note appended to the certificate states that he was the Widower of one Agnes Struthers. Evidently the Informant got his wife’s surname wrong.


The seventh child, Alexander, married Jean McNab and remained on Loch Tayside as a Shepherd and Farmer. He died in 1892. His only son out of 5 children was also called Alexander and also farmed near Loch Tay.


The eighth child, Margaret, married a gardener called Donald Malloch and went to live in Little Dunkeld, where she died in 1912.


Duncan McDougall’s children

Mary, born in 1843, may have died young.


Alexander, his first son, was born in Edinburgh in 1846. By 1871 he was a Spirit Merchant’s Assistant living in lodgings in Lothian Street. The following year he had moved to Brighton Street and married a widow called Catherine Yorkstone. If she brought any children to the marriage, they were not mentioned. On his marriage certificate his mother Jane is noted as deceased. On 12 May 1874, Alexander went to a firm of local solicitors with his cousin David Davidson and had his Will drafted and witnessed. He was dying from TB. The estate was made out wholly to his wife - no children were mentioned. At his death in October 1874 he was worth £183 15s 6d, most of it in cash.

A son, Alexander Watson McDougall, was born on 11 April 1875. In 1899, he was 2nd mate on a cargo ship called the Stanley in Launceston harbour, Tasmania, when a load of timber fell on him and crushed his head. He was a day over 24 years old.


John Duncan McDougall

He was born in Edinburgh in 1848 but disappears from view until the 1871 Census, when he was lodging in a street off Vauxhall Bridge Road in London. He was described as a Tailor, aged 23, born in Scotland. What impulse brought him to the capital is not known. By late 1873 he was living in Clerkenwell and had married Hannah Rose, a 30-year-old Blacksmith’s daughter from Denham in Buckinghamshire. Their daughter Edith was born in 1875 in nearby Gerrard’s Cross. The family then moved to Oxford or Reading - Alexander (b 1877), John (b 1879) and Rose (b 1883) were all born in the area. Rose would go on to marry Herbert Bateson in 1905.


By 1891, the family were in Brighton. In early 1901, just before the Census in March, John Duncan was dead, allegedly from drink, aged only 50.