MacDonalds and France

Happy New Year!

I am a Douglas, but my wife is a Macdonald, so I am interested in Macdonald as well as Douglas history.

I was in Paris recently, to visit the Douglas tombs in the Église St Germain Des Prés.  I also took the opportunity to visit the Palace of Versailles.  Totally by chance in Versailles I came across a picture of E J J A MacDonald, Duke of Taranto which I thought I should share (sorry, the photograph was taken at an angle.  The area was roped off, so I could not take it straight on).

The following was news to me, although I am sure it won’t be news to some readers, who know much more about Clan Donald history than I do.  A google search about EJJA MacDonald led to Wikipedia, where he has his own page. Even more information is available on the BBC website at

In the briefest summary Étienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexander MacDonald was born in Sedan, France in 1765.  His father, Neil MacEachen, later MacDonald, was from a Jacobite family from Howbeg in South Uist, and a cousin of Flora MacDonald.   MacEachan\MacDonald was a tutor to the children of the chief of Clanranald.  He was involved in the 1745 Jacobite uprising, and escaped to France with Bonnie Prince Charlie.  There the BBC suggests that he changed his name from MacEachan to MacDonald because the French found MacEachan too difficult to pronounce.

In 1785 his son Jacques MacDonald joined the Irish legion, and eventually, because he was in love with the daughter of an enthusiastic revolutionary, joined the French revolutionary army.  He was involved in a great deal of fighting, and in 1799 was invited to lead a coup d’état to topple the French government.  He refused, and as a result Napoleon led the coup d’état.  Had MacDonald accepted, he might have become Emperor MacDonald of France!  However, he was promoted to Marshal of France by Napoleon in 1809.

Well, I am not aware a Douglas has ever been made a Marshal of France!

Best wishes

Ian Douglas   MacDonald Marshal of France


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