Some years ago I traced my husband's MacDonald ancestors on the Isle of Skye back to the McKenneth Kings. An older family member had travelled to Scotland many years before and had begun the search for the MacDonald ancestry and I continued her well researched work. My husband, David, is also related to the Stewart Kings, through a second marriage of his ancestor John, Lord of the Isles and this lineage has been thoroughly researched, well documented and supported through Burke's Peerage. Imagine my horror, to discover on Ancestry.com no less than nine family trees tracing branches of our Mathew MacDonald's family, all with an identical mistake. My husband's great grandfather, Mathew MacDonald ( seated in the photograph above) was the son of Charles MacDonald of Ord, the 13th progenitor of the Clanranald branch of MacDonalds. His mother remains unknown to us but his paternity is well documented through letters from Scotland from his half brother, Keith Norman MacDonald, a doctor and well known composer of Scottish reels and Jigs in the late1800's. Mathew's father, Charles MacDonald of Ord, married Anne McLeod of Gesto in 1828, some 18 years after Matthew's birth. Nine out of ten trees on Ancestry.com tracing the ancestors of Mathew MacDonald, have Mathew's step-mother, Anne as his mother.
The owners of these trees put the wrong mother on Mathew's tree, and they have also gone to a great deal of trouble to trace her lineage, and although extremely interesting, it does not belong on this family tree. I contacted the owners of the trees, and so far have heard from only one, who was happy that I had corrected their mistake. Mathew MacDonald does not descend from the McLeod's of Gesto, as these trees suggest. I am hoping that through this blog, someone might see that this information is incorrect, and straighten out the maternal branch of my husband's great grandfather's tree. Pictured right is Charles macdonald, son of Mathew and grandson of Charles of Ord with his wife Mary Maguire and children.
Ancestry.com is an excellent source of reference for family historians however, with regard to ancestry Trees, extreme caution needs to be employed before copying information from unsourced trees. Never copy anything unsourced!! Contact the owner of a tree and ask where the information came from. Check the information yourself to verify its source and validity. Family anecdotes, though delightfully entertaining, can be notoriously misleading and need to be thoroughly researched and verified. I was told by several MacDonald aunts, that Mathew MacDonald had sailed to Australia on a ship named 'The Mary Jane' and that my husband's grandmother ( Mary Jane) was named after the ship. I spent quite a lot of time searching for the wrong ship! Mathew and his wife Mary McPherson, in fact, arrived on board the 'William Nicol' as part of the Dunmore Lang emigration scheme. Persistence, patience and accuracy is important when researching the family tree. Research is slow, there is no changing the fact, but accuracy is rewarding.
I will soon be posting the fascinating ancestry of Mathew MacDonald on my family blog site http://www.sharn-genealogyjottings.blogspot.com/