Clan Donald Magazine No 5 (1971) Online
The Rt. Hon. Alexander Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald MBE 7th Lord Macdonald and High Chief of Clan Donald.
Lord Macdonald died at his home in Sleat on the 29th November 1970 after a long illness bravely borne. For a year he suffered painfully in and out of hospital, still trying to fulfil his duties as Lord Lieut. of the County, and Convener of the County Council of Inverness-shire.
Born in 1909 and educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Oxford, where he graduated MA, he served in the 4th Cameron Highlanders in World War II, for which he was awarded the MBE (Military Division). He joined the County Council in 1932, became Vice-Convener in 1952, Convener in 1968, and was Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire for 18 years. From 1953 to 1957 he was Grand Master Mason of Scotland and travelled round the world in that capacity. To all these tasks he brought his full energy and his services were highly thought of by all who worked with him, as he was a wise counsellor in all matters to do with local government. His dedication to the service of his county and country undoubtedly taxed his energies and health so that he died at the comparatively early age of 61.
In 1947 he succeeded his grandfather as 7th Baron Macdonald of Slate, Co. Antrim, although his estates were, of course, in Skye. A few months later in 1947 he matriculated arms to Macdonald of Macdonald and was thus recognised by Lord Lyon as High Chief of Clan Donald in direct succession to the Lords of the Isles.
He married in 1945; and is survived by Lady Macdonald, two sons, and a daughter to whom all the Clan extend their sincere sympathy. His elder son, Godfrey James, succeeds as the 8th Baron and we all wish him every success for the future, as he takes up a heavy burden at the age of 23. In Edinburgh we have already been able to welcome him and his wife to our midst, and have a high regard for them both.
A party of members of the Edinburgh Society attended the funeral on the 2nd December at the old church of Kilmore where Lord Macdonald had been for years an elder. It was a day of cold rain and driving wind from the Northwest. Several hundreds went to the graveside, representing the County Council, Free Masons, clansfolk, and neighbours. Even the weather seemed to join in the mourning as a piper led the company down to the edge of the Sound of Sleat where he is buried beside his family.
Appreciation: Lord Macdonald, A Chief Who Faced up to the Challenge of Change.
Lord Macdonald will take his place in the history of Clan Donald as a chief who did much to ensure that the Ancient territories of the clan were able to meet the challenge of technological innovation and economic change.
A man of dignity, possessed of a quiet charm, he won his victories in committee chambers and boardrooms. There, away from the glare of modern publicity, he displayed qualities of wise judgment and decision that were part of his heritage from ancestors who proved their right to leadership by their ability to assess the weakness of enemies no less than by their skill with arms.
Too many Scots will recall him only as a kilted figure on their television screens carrying out the ceremonial duties of a Lord Lieutenant during Royal visits to the islands and the mainland of Inverness-shire.
He was, however, no mere figurehead. The part he played in the administration of the affairs of the county and in local government in Scotland as a whole is widely acknowledged. In his years as a local representative, vice convener and latterly as Convener of the County Council of Inverness he helped to steer that area through the difficult immediate post-war years, keeping it abreast of changing conditions and ready for the developments of the future.
His greatest contribution to the economic welfare of the Highlands and Islands perhaps was the role he played in ensuring that the ordinary people of the North derived the maximum benefit from the great post-war development of hydro-electric power. Inverness-shire is a county with considerable water power resources and he was involved in negotiations between the County Council and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board over early hydro-electric schemes.
It was appropriate therefore that when after the nationalisation of the electricity supply industry the Electricity Consultative Council was set up to represent the interests of consumers he was appointed a member, becoming Deputy Chairman and, in 1961, Chairman with a seat on the Hydro-Electric Board. The work of the Council rarely makes headlines but the record of its successful activities is an impressive one.
It fell to Lord Macdonald to take the initiative on behalf of electricity consumers to preserve the independence of the Hydro-Electric Board when the Mackenzie Committee recommended that the two Scottish Electricity Boards should be merged. On a wave of public opposition to this proposal he called a meeting of representatives of all local authorities in the North of Scotland and carried to the Secretary of State for Scotland their unanimous opinion that it would be to the disadvantage of the North if the Board was swallowed up in a larger body. The Board was allowed to continue its work as an independent authority.
Lord Macdonald's devotion to his duties during long months of illness was characteristic of the man. Many an electricity supply line in remote places stands in mute testimony to his work. - G.D.B.
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