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The Story of John Macdonell of Greenfield as precised by Evelyn Goulet
A forgotten hero of the battle of
the 1st child born after the battle and was christened John Brock Macdonald in honour of the two leaders who fell in that battle. Before I highlight the reasons for the fame gained in his short life, I should mention a bit of the families backgrounds.
Born in Greenfield, Scotland in 1785, the 2nd youngest son of Alexander Macdonell of Greenfield and his wife Janet Macdonell of Aberchalder (daughter of Alexander Macdonell of Aberchalder, brother to John Macdonell of the wadset of Leek,
and Allan Macdonell of Collachie), he was one of ten children.
His father Alexander followed his wifes
Described by a Scottish authoress, Mrs.
Grant of Laggan, the father Alexander is the epitome of a highlander. She
wrote A few lingering instances of the old superior
One of its latest examples being afforded by Macdonell of Greenfield Ceann Tighe of a cadet house of thee Glengarry family, who in the latter part of last century was celebrated for his handsome person, courtly dress, his exploits as a
deerstalker and general character as a model
of the Highland gentlemen living in his time. He is described as dressed
invariably in the
over the trews.
John arrived in Glengarry at the age of 7.
At first the family resided with Alexander Macdonell of Aberchalder, the
mothers father, but eventually settled at what was to be called
Johns uncles, John and Hugh of Aberchalder
had risen to prominence in the political and military network of early
John of Greenfield spent his boyhood days at
An older cousin, Alexander Macdonell of
Collachie, was a frequent visitor at
student at law,
Perhaps jealousy caused Dr. William Warren
Baldwin, to feel insulted and challenge young John to a duel.
the time came. On Greenfields second telling Baldwin that Greenfield intended only to receive Baldwins fire and would not shoot, Baldwin took this as an apology and the matter was resolved.
By 1812, Isaac Brock, Administrator and
British Army Officer had been promoted to Major-General, and in his hands
was placed the protection of
John Macdonell of
Their first battle was preemptive and
resulted in the taking of
look more numerous to the Americans. The Indians accompanying him made as much noise as possible. Brock sent a message to the Fort that if the forts force did not surrender, he might be unable to prevent a massacre. John Macdonell
received the sword when the commander of the fort surrendered. There were actually only about 1,030 men with Brock, against more than 2,500 men at the fort. 33 pieces of cannon were captured.
Brock wrote in a letter
dated August 30, 1812 to Lord Liverpool:
to move his Right Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, to be graciously pleased to confirm his appointment to the office of His Majestys Attorney-General, in which Lieutenant Governor Gore, upon his departure, nominated him to act.
Until Brock began the return trip to
The Canadians and British
adhering to the terms of the Armistice, were taken by surprise by the
American attack at
Then Brock joined the Battle of Queenston Heights.
Brock had fallen and when the news reached John Macdonell who had gathered a force of 190 men and was a few miles away, John hurried his men to the scene of action. By the time he arrived, 500 Americans had taken the Heights.
With his small force, John Macdonell rushed up the hill, while musketry poured down. At this time officers wore a distinctive uniform and attracted marksmen, and John Macdonell was soon shot and odying. Removed from the field by two
friends who miraculously survived the effort, John Macdonell lived a further 24 hours continually lamenting the death of his Chief.
The battle was won but the hearts of the heroic victors were heavy with the loss of their two beloved leaders.
It was fitting that this brave young highlander, twenty-five years old at his death, should repose in death by the side of the hero he loved so well.
Brock had asked to be
buried in the York Battery (the garrison) and they were both buried there
They were moved to a
monument built at
The source for this article is a 36 page address by A. McLean Macdonell A Sketch of the Ancestry, Life and Death of Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell given to the U.E.L. Association in 1924.
In 2002 some items
referenced in the will of John A. Macdonell (5th of
silhouette of John A.
Chart of John Macdonell of
Chart of John Macdonell of Greenfield
This page is dedicated to the Macdonell's of Greenfield, a cadet line of Clan Donald. Pictures displayed here and below are from a Presentation of memorabilia of relics of this family to the Norwester's & Loyalist Museum in 2002. The above is the Colours of the 2nd Battalion, an important military unit during the defence of Canada's borders in 1812 (Queenston Heights, etc.)
I will be adding an article I wrote for Clan Donald Glengarry & Stormont Newsletter once it has appeared in their newsletter. It chronicles the short life of Brock's aid-de-camp John Macdonell of Greenfield, from Greenfield, Glengarry County, who died heroically, some might say recklessly, at Queenston Heights. He is buried in the monument at Queenston Heights with Brock, and was immortalized in a song by Stan Rogers.
soldier, politician. and public servant; b.
Donald Macdonell. who came to Charlottenburgh Township, Upper Canada. in 1792 with a group of Highlanders led by his father, was a member of a Scottish Catholic family long prominent in the military and political affairs of the Eastern District. The family included his father, Colonel Alexander Macdonell, w, his uncle John Macdonell* (Aberchalder), first speaker of the Upper Canadian House of Assembly, and his brothers Colonel Duncan Macdonell who in 1857 was to succeed his father in the command of the 2nd Regiment of Glengarry militia. Colonel John Macdonell, member of the assembly and aide-de-camp to General Isaac Brock, and Alexander Greenfield Macdonell, member of the assembly and sheriff of the Ottawa District.
Donald Macdoncll (and
his brother Duncan) attended John Strachans school at
During the rebellion
years Macdonell raised and led a force of Glengarry Highlanders which was
on active duty on the Lower Canadian frontier in 1837-38 and which in
November 1838 took part in the relief of Beauharnois. where Patriote
forces had taken over the seigneury of Edward ELLICE. He expected to
receive the command of one of the incorporated militia corps which
continued in service after 1838. Despite frequent applications he was unable to relieve his growing
financial hardship by further government employment until 1845, when
he served briefly as superintendent of police for the
service meant following the provincial capital in its several moves.
Previously Macdonell had lived almost all of his life at
J. K. JOHNSON (Extracted from Dictionary of Canadian Biography which can be found online with sources cited.)
Greenfield Macdonell Collection at Norwester's Loyalist Museum, Williamstown
Collection includes pictures relating to Scotus, Aberchalder, Leek, Greenfield Macdonell Families (John A. Macdonell (Greenfield) of Alexandria Will
Pictures taken in 2002 by Evelyn Goulet except silhouette of John Macdonell of Greenfield and damaged Brock Monument sketch (1840) found on internet
Son and Grandson of Judge Ian McLean Macdonell, below donated these items, the subject of the Will of John A. Macdonell, Greenfield (Jack) of Alexandria. Extracts and description of items bequeathed in this will appear in a document linked to this page.