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Alexander McDonald (1745–1821)

Alexander McDonald, a marine in the 20th (Portsmouth) Company, arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Friendship as part of the First Fleet. He served in the company of Captain James Campbell at Port Jackson. He had a son James (baptised on 5 September 1789) with Mary Phillips but did not accompany the pair when they were sent to Norfolk Island in March 1790.

Alexander received a 130 acre grant of land at Field of Mars in January 1792. He married Mary Oliver on 18 March. By December he was grinding his own wheat on a mill on his property and selling it to baker in Sydney.

On 15 August 1804 he was granted 100 acres at Bankstown. Two years later he was recorded as holding 158 acres: 15 acres of wheat, 30 acres of maize, 2 acres of barley, 5 acres of potatoes, 4 acres of orchard and garden, and 85 acres of pasture. Six bushels of wheat and 60 bushels maize were held in store and he owned 20 male and 9 female hogs. Both he and his wife, as well as one child, two convicts and three free men were living off stores. 

McDonald, along with his wife and son-in-law, drowned on 21 December 1821 after the boat in which they were travelling overturned off the Pulpit, about 4 miles from Sydney. An inquest found that the whole party was in a state of intoxication and had been quarrelling.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 229-230

Additional Resources

Citation details

'McDonald, Alexander (1745–1821)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]




21 December, 1821 (aged ~ 76)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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