Magazine No 1 (1959) Online
Clan Donald in
America by Reginald H. Macdonald.
Major (Retd.) Reginald H. Macdonald OBE of Pittsburgh, High
Commissioner of Clan Donald in the United States, is a direct
descendant of Flora Macdonald.
Clan Donald Society of America was started at Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, and later activated in North Carolina, and more
recently in Texas, where there are several large family groups of
movement to activate the Clan in the United States commenced with
the grant of a Commission on 31st August 1954 by Lord Macdonald of
Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald. The appointment of High
Commissioner (Ard Toshachdeor) of Clan Donald in the United States
is not hereditary, but is held for a period of five years, unless
previously recalled, and carries with it the right to recommend to
the Chief worthy clansmen for the rank of Commissioner (Toshachdeor)
of states or appropriate districts for a similar period of time,
unless recalled. Accordingly, I recommended to Lord Macdonald for
the appointment as Commissioner of North and South Carolina Donald
Frank MacDonald of Charlotte, North Carolina, and he was so
commissioned on 26th December 1954. There are now Commissioners in
New York, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington and Missouri.
should be noted that were I to resign as High Commissioner or the
office be vacated for some other reason, Lord Macdonald would
immediately appoint another High Commissioner so the chain of Clan
command is secure for the future.
Macdonald advised me to proceed slowly in organising the Clan, as
nothing, in his opinion, could be gained by undue haste and
everything could be lost by a false start. His advice proved most
wise, and the activation of the Clan was proceeded with earlier than
had been intended only because there arose an opportunity for Clan
Donald to sponsor the Pipers and the Band of HM Scots Guards in
Pittsburgh and in Charlotte. This could not be done on short notice
and a considerable monetary guarantee was necessary for their
appearance. Our Chief agreed that this unusual occasion warranted an
earlier start than had been contemplated. Consequently the first
meeting of the Clan Society was successfully convened at Flora
Macdonald College, Red Springs, North Carolina, on 23rd April 1955.
The eventual sponsorship by the Clan of the stirring appearance of
the Scots Guards in Pittsburgh and later in Charlotte was highly
successful and of considerable benefit to Clan Donald.
should be of interest to members of the Clan to know that the Scots
Guards did not permit opening ceremonies anywhere in the United
States except the two for Clan Donald, and their provision of three
Pipers for me on each occasion was consequent upon the presence of
Lord Macdonald's personal banner, which he has graciously permitted
his High Commissioner to display on appropriate occasions. It will
quite probably not be displayed again until his Lordship visits us.
The honour of Banner-Bearer (Gilliebrataich) fell to Donald
MacDonald, Commissioner of the North and South Carolina District.
work necessary to bring about a proper legal posture for the Clan
Donald Society in America has consumed much time and entailed
considerable correspondence between our lawyers, Kirkpatrick,
Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson of Pittsburgh. Lord Macdonald in Skye
and the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh. It was as late as
October 1955 before we felt we were in possession of the necessary
rulings covering familial clanship and could draw up the required
papers, which fell into two parts:
(1) The Trust Deed for The Clan Donald Educational and
Charitable Trust, and
(2) The Articles of Incorporation for the Clan Society, and its
clan societies in the United States have either failed or, at best,
have not flourished.
Searching for reasons, Lord Macdonald and I believed that there were
two. First, some societies had not realised that the Clan is a
patriarchal and not a fraternal organisation. It is not based, like
Masonry, on the crafts. The whole essence, attraction and power of
the Clan organisation lies in its being a patriarchal survival
embodied in the Gaelic definition of Chief - Ceann Cinnidh which is
legally a position hereditary or passing from patriarch to
Clan subsists as a legal entity under its Chief. In essence it is a
Father and Children relationship, as you well know, and this must be
recognised and preserved. Secondly, these societies had lacked a
real object in life to keep up interest within the Clan. It is all
very well to have Ceilidhs, Tartan Balls, Burns Dinners, Highland
Games, etc., and these social functions are necessary and worthwhile
parts of Clanship. But something above and beyond them seemed
necessary. To meet this need it was decided to form The Clan Donald
Educational and Charitable Trust, which should be a challenge to all
Clansmen and can be made applicable to any part of the world where
the Clan is numbered.
Because of the complicated decisions obtained from the Lord Lyon
concerning the Clan Society, it seemed best to proceed with the
Trust first, and this has proved to be a wise policy, if only for
the reason that there had to be a time lapse between execution of
the Deed of Trust and the solicitation of funds.
the Deed Trust was accepted by Lord Macdonald, who honoured the
Trust by becoming its Patron, the document was executed by me on
15th December 1955, and thereafter was signed by all Trustees and an
original recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on 17th February 1956. Conformed
copies of this Trust are in the hands of the Edinburgh Trustees and
may be seen by any member of the Clan.
present Trustees of The Clan Donald Educational and Charitable Trust
- of which there must be not less than seven and may be as many as
Reginald H. Macdonald OBE (President).
Sheriff-Principal T.P. Macdonald QC (Vice-President).
Peter G. Macdonald Esq. WS, Edinburgh;
Donald J. McDonald Esq. MA LLD, Inverness;
Robert M. McDonald Esq.MC QC, Edinburgh;
Stuart Nyc Hutchison Jr. Esq., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
J. Talbot Johnson Esq., Aberdeen, North Carolina;
DeLoss K. MacDonald, Seattle, Washington;
Godfrey Macdonald, New York;
H. Malcolm Macdonald, PhD, Austin, Texas;
John M. McDonald, Chicago, Illinois;
Ranald H. Macdonald, New York;
Robert E. MacDonald OBE, St. Louis, Missouri;
Ure Anderson Jr. of the legal firm of Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy. Lockhart
& Johnson, was approved by the Trustees as Secretary and accepted
this important post. He has been associated with the Trust from its
inception and has carried much of the burden of the work, displaying
a keen knowledge of the unusual problems involved. In Scotland,
George D. MacDonald Banks, a member of the Clan Donald Society of
Edinburgh, is Honorary Secretary; Linford S. Macdonald, Pittsburgh,
Trust welcomes contributions from the Clan, and it is hoped all
clansmen will make it their duty to seek funds for the Trust.
Obviously for some considerable time we must be on the receiving
rather than the giving end. Cheques should be made payable to The
Clan Donald Educational and Charitable Trust at either the Edinburgh
or Pittsburgh offices of the Trust.
Turning now to the organisation of the Clan Society, here again
there have been many legal problems and the work has been difficult
but rewarding. To graft true clanship on to democratic institutions
has exercised our legal minds. Again it has entailed much
correspondence with the Lord Lyon King of Arms on points of Clan
law. It is believed the final documents will meet with general
Another problem arose in the obtaining of Clan badges. It became
evident that the present badge of Clan Donald was not now correct in
the light of Lord Macdonald of Macdonald's Matriculation of 11th
April 1947 in the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The Lord Lyon
agreed with the substance of our representation to him and, with the
approval of Lord Macdonald, a new badge was drawn in proper heraldic
form by the Lord Lyon. It departs little from the old badge we know
so well, but now includes the three strawberry-leaved coronet of
Macdonald of Macdonald. We have, in the Clan muniment room in
Pittsburgh, a copy of this badge done in colour by the Lord Lyon's
office and signed by Lord Macdonald and have presented a duplicate
to the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh.
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