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Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


Rev. James Middleton MACDONALD

Born 7 February 1857 in Emerald Hill, Victoria, Australia [15] [366]
Son of Rev. Donald MACDONALD and Isabella Grant MIDDLETON [15] [293: 20-Jan-1915]
Obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne in 1877 and a Master of Arts from the University of Sydney in 1879 [365]
Master at the Ipswich Grammar School in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia in the early 1880s [367: 23-Feb-1916]
Temporary Preacher for the Presbyterian Church at a number of locations in Canada over the summer of 1882 [508: 21-Oct-1882]
He migrated to England and was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1885 [365]
Married Elizabeth GOODWIN on 1 July 1884 at the Holy Trinity Church in Worcester, Worcestershire, England [33]
Chaplain at the University of Oxford in England 1887-1890, during which time he completed a Master of Arts at Oxford [365]
Chaplain in India from 1890 to 1915 [365]
     Within this period he also conducted chaplaincies in other counties, such as for the English community in Sienna, Italy in 1909 [365]
     In 1911 he was Senior King's Chaplain in Dacca, Bengal, India (now Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh) [39: 2-Sep-1911]
     The following year, in 1912, he was a chaplain at Gulmarg, a town in the western Himilayas in Kashmir, India [120: 18-Oct-1912]
     He was later the Chaplain-General of the Military Forces in India [343: 10-Oct-1916]
During his time in India he wrote and had published at least five books, starting with Thunderbolt: An Australian Story in 1894, [509]
     The Baba Log: A Tale of Child Life in India in 1896, Massilia Cathago: Sacrifice Tablets of the Worship of Baal in 1897, [509]
     Briton verses Boer: the struggle for the flag in South Africa in 1900 and Roll up: A Tale of the Eureka Riots, Ballarat in 1901 [509]
He travelled to Western Australia in 1911 to inspect land along the Midland Railway with a view of shifting 18 months later [39: 2-Sep-1911]
     He'd read in London's The Times of "an attractive scheme for men with means or pensions who desired to settle on the land" [39]
     The Midland Railway Company were to clear and prepare the land for cultivation with repayments spread over 20 years [39]
     During his visit he made preliminary arrangements to take up a 400 acre Ready-Made Farm about a mile from Coorow [39]
     His friend Philip FARLEY, who was retiring from work as a ship's captain in India, had already inspected the farms [120: 18-Oct-1912]
In 1912 he encouraged others to take up Ready-Made Farms in Coorow, even writing to newspapers in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) [120]
     He planned to form a syndicate with investors and settlers to take up as much of the Coorow district as possible [120: 18-Oct-1912]
     Planning to form the syndicate on 1 January 1913, he wished to hear from any investors or settlers with £100 to £1000 [120]
     He felt the opportunity of the farms was akin to striking oil, and wished to help others benefit and provide for their families [120]
     The syndicate didn't eventuate, however, it may have led to Carl G. B. JENSEN, a ship's captain in India, to take up a farm [34] [403]
Signed the contract to purchase 800 acres of farmland in Coorow from the Midland Railway Company on 28 April 1913 [27]
     The 800 acres were two Ready-Made Farms and consisted of Lots M960 and M962 of Victoria Location 2023 [27]
     Payable over 20 years, the farm cost £3,400 (£4/5/- an acre), came with a house and was partly cleared and fenced [27]
He granted power of attorney to neighbouring farmer Philip FARLEY, who managed his farm 1913-1915 [39: 3-Nov-1915] [120: 8-May-1914]
     270 acres of wheat crop were grown on his Coorow farm in 1913, which yielded between 20 and 27 bushels per acre [120: 8-May-1911]
     The unoccupied house on his farm was offered by Philip FARLEY to house the Coorow State School in September 1914 [215]
     The Education Department didn't take up the offer as the Coorow State School had temporarily closed due to a lack of students [215]
     He baptised Philip's grand-daughter Elaine M. CHAPPELL at Saint Thomas' in Dacca, Bengal, India on 3 November 1914 [272]
Both of his children died during the First World War while aboard separate ships torpedoed by German submarines [334: 22-Feb-1916]
     His son Roy was serving with the Royal Navy and went down with the H.M.S. Hawke on the North Sea in October 1914 [334]
     His daughter Enid, on her way to India to be married, was on the mail steamer Persia when it was torpedoed in December 1915 [334]
He arrived in Western Australia to manage his farm in Coorow towards the latter part of 1915 [39: 3-Nov-1915]
     On 3 November 1915 in Coorow, he revoked by mutual consent the power of attorney he had granted Philip FARLEY [39: 3-Nov-1915]
     He attended and chaired a meeting of Ready-Made Farm settlers, which was held in Winchester in November 1915 [34]
     In Midland Railway Company correspondence it was remarked "Macdonald is a man without the slightest knowledge of farming" [34]
     He later advised the company: "It will seem incredible to you that I have left our splendid farm; but it is a fact." [34]
     After an estimated two months in Coorow he left in mid December 1915 to shift to Smithton, Tasmania [34]
     Before leaving he appointed and gave power of attorney to Robert W. OWEN-DAINTREY as manager of his farm [34]
     In 1916 he was receiving support for his farm from the Industries Assistance Board (I.A.B.) [34]
     230 acres of crop were grown on his Coorow farm in 1916 and 200 acres of wheat in 1917 [10: 19-Jun-1917] [34]
Vicar in Smithton, Tasmania, Australia in 1916 and 1917 [334: 22-Feb-1916] [361: 26-Jan-1917]
Vicar in Ringarooma, Tasmania, Australia in 1917 and 1918 [361: 26-Jan-1917] [362: 14-May-1918]
He visited Western Australia, and presumably his farm in Coorow, during January 1918 [39: 4-Jan-1918]
     During the voyage over, on the steamship Katoomba, commercial travellers challenged four clergy on board to a game of cricket [39]
     He and the other three clergy gave their challengers "the surprise of their life" with good batting and especially good bowling [39]
Travelling Secretary of the Bishop's Home Mission Society in South Australia in 1918 and 1919 [510: 5-Sep-1918, 29-May-1919]
Vicar in the Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne in 1919 and 1920 [50] [363: 5-Aug-1920] [510: 29-May-1919]
He was appointed Vicar of the McLeod Military Sanatorium in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg in July 1920 [363: 22-Jul-1920]
Father of Roy and Enid [334: 22-Feb-1916]
Died 24 October 1920 at 2 Moorhouse Street in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern [293: 16-Oct-1920]
The Midland Railway Company rescinded the sale on his Coorow farm on 21 June 1922 and eight days later sold it to BOTHE Bros [27]
Under instruction of the Industries Assistance Board, a clearing sale was held on his former farm on Tuesday 22 August 1922 [39]
     Sold at the sale were 220 acres of growing crop, seven farm mares and geldings, and a range of farm machinery [39]
     The machinery included a 15-disc Massey drill, 6-foot Albion binder, 6-foot McKay harvester, 22-spring Massey tooth cultivator, [39]
     horseworks and cutter, 5-disc McKay plough, 14-disc McKay Sundercut plough, heavy dray and a sulky [39: 12-Aug-1922]

From The Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent newspaper, Friday 25 February 1916:
A Clergyman's Sorrow
"The Rev. J. Middleton Macdonald, vicar of Smithtown (Tas.), has just received the sad news that his only daughter, Enid, who was on her way to India to be married, was drowned in the torpedoed mail steamer Persia on December 30. His only son, Lieut. Donald Roy Macdonald, R.N., went down on the bridge doing his duty when H.M.S. Hawke was torpedoed in the North Sea in October, 1914. Both brother and sister, therefore, were killed by German submarines."

From Melbourne's The Argus newspaper, Saturday 16 October 1920:
"MACDONALD - On the 14th October, at the residence of his sister, 2 Moorhouse street, Malvern, the Rev. James Middleton Macdonald, late Vicar of Cranbourne, formerly chaplain to the Government of India, third son of the late Rev. Dr. Macdonald, of South Melbourne."

From The Ballarat Star newspaper, Tuesday 2 November 1920:
Distinguished Scholar - Rev. J. M. Macdonald's Death
"The death occurred on October 14, at his sister's residence, Moorhouse street, Malvern, of the Rev. James Middleton Macdonald, at the age of 63 years. He was the third son of the late Rev. Dr. Macdonald, of South Melbourne. After taking his M.A. degree in Sydney he studied at Edinburgh and Leipzig (Germany). He finally took the Oxford M.A. degree with honors. His special study was in Eastern languages, and he carried off the Horton prize at Oxford. After living for two years in Palestine, when he made visits to the adjacent countries, as well as to Turkey and Egypt, he wrote his most scholarly book on the sacrificial tablet of Baal. This tablet, which is in the Phoenician language, is now in the church at Marseilles. The book brought him high praise from Eastern scholars. During his wide travels Mr Macdonald undertook temporary clerical duties in England, France, Germany, Italy, Africa, Canada and the United States. Much of this work was done while he was on furlough from his regular work as Chaplain to the Government of India. Mr Macdonald returned to Australia about six years ago, and was for some time vicar at Cranbourne."

Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'James Middleton Macdonald' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 15 April 2024 from [reference list]

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