Topic: Donald Theodore Macmillan (1833-1896)

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Captain Donald Macmillan was an early Katikati settler. This biography was written in 2011 by his great granddaughter, Katikati Historian Ellen McCormack.

Donald was born at Ballachulish in the western Highlands of Scotland on 12 September 1833 to Presbyterian minister Rev John Macmillan and his wife Mary Ann (nee Kennedy). He was the third child in a family of eight. The family had moved to Ballachulish in 1829 and they lived in a newly erected manse in Onich, close to Loch Linnhe.

On 28 December 1854 Donald married Margaret Thomson Campbell at St. Matthews Church in Glasgow. Margaret was born in Tiree on 25 December 1828. They had seven children together, the last being born in 1868, soon after which Donald must have left the family. Margaret died of syphilis at her unmarried sister's residence at 101 Douglas Street in Glasgow in 1877.

Rev John MacMillan left the Church of Scotland at the Disruption in 1843 and became the first minister of Kirkcudbright Free Church at Cardross in Dumbartonshire. At this stage the family surname was changed from McMillan to Macmillan. In May 1858 John was libeled and suspended for his drunkenness. His appeal failed and he left the church in 1863. The accusations were proven false, but he never recovered and became a Book Canvasser in Glasgow, Lanarkshire.  

By 1870 Donald was in St Croix in the West Indies managing a Sugar plantation for relatives Robert and William Cumming from Northern Ireland. It was there that he met his second wife Maria Elise Barca of Danish, German and Italian extract. Marie was in St Croix visiting her school friend who was the wife of the Governor of St Croix. They married in St Croix on 12 September 1870. Five children were born to the couple in St Croix, two of them dying as infants.

The children of Donald Theodore Macmillan:

  1. Mary Ann Margaret Campbell Macmillan (1856-1858). Born in Blythswood, Glasgow, Lanark in 1856. She died in Edinburgh, Midlothian in 1858.
  2. John Archibald Campbell Macmillan (1859-1943). Born in Edinburgh, Midlothian in 1856. He married Margaret Boyd Brown in Glasgow in 1888. John died in 1943.
  3. Colin Campbell Macmillan (1860-1929). born in Edinburgh, Midlothian in 1860. He married Beatrice Lenore Anderson in Gladgow in 1890. Colin died in Vancouver, Canada, in 1929.
  4. George Yeoman Forth Macmillan (1862-?). Born in Blythswood, Glasgow in 1862. Death unknown.
  5. Harry Duncan Addenbrock Macmillan (1865-1865). Born in Largs, Ayrshire in 1865, he died there the same year.
  6. Lachlan Campbell Macmillan (1867-1884). Born in Largs, Ayrshire in 1867. He died in Blythswood, Glasgow, Lanark in 1884.
  7. James Robertson Burns Macmillan (1868-1869). Born in Largs, Ayrshire in 1868. He died at a few months of age. Identity of his father is uncertain but family rumour and speculation point to a descendant of poet Robbie Burns even though Donald signed the birth certificate.
  8. Robert John Cumming Macmillan (1870-1912). Born in St Croix, West Indies, in 1871. He married Mabel Sanders Hart in Thames in 1896. He died in Waihi Hospital in 1912 and was buried in Katikati Cemetery.
  9. Carl Edward Duncan Angus Evan Ewan de la Barca Macmillan (1872-1941). Known as Charles. He was born in St Croix, West Indies in 1872. He married Ethel Louisa Latham in Ngaruawahia in 1899. He died in Tauranga in 1941 and was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery.
  10. Hugh Cumming Stanhope Macmillan (1874-1874). Born in St Croix, West Indies in 1874, he died there the same year.
  11. Hugh Stanhope Cumming  Macmillan (1876-1876). Born in St Croix, West Indies in 1876, he died there the same year.
  12. Evangeline Julia Mary Macmillan (1879-1962). Known as Daisy. She was born in St Croix, West Indies in 1879. She married Frederick Thomas Crommetin Johnston in Katikati in 1900. Daisy died in Tauranga in 1962 and was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery.
  13. Lilian Marie Elise De la Barca Macmillan (1883-1969). Known as Lily. She was born in Castle Grace, Katikati. She died in Tokanui in 1969 and was buried in Katikati Cemetery.

An insurrection caused by a Negro uprising swept the island in October 1878 and the family escaped with only the clothes on their backs, per a ship back to England to try and claim insurance for their losses. On the way they picked up their children Robert and Charles who had been sent to live with Maria's family in Rensburg, Schleswig, Holstein because of the harsh climate in St Croix. Unfortunately they found that no insurance was available. By this time George Vesey Stewart was seeking settlers for Te Puke, so the family joined the May Queen and arrived in Tauranga in December 1881.

Castle Grace 1900, Kauri Point Road, Home of Donald and Maria Macmillan

Castle Grace, Kauri Point Road (1900)

The family stayed in Tauranga. Donald did not approve of his allocated land in Te Puke so he purchased 'Castle Grace' at Kauri Point from Fitzgibbon Louch in 1882 and there the family lived till Donald's death at age 63, on 24 May 1896.

Castle Grace 1900, Kauri Point Road, side view Macmillans

Castle Grace, Kauri Point Road (1900)

Donald's life in Katikati complemented George Vesey Stewart's life and between them they were on every board in the district and were a voice to be reckoned with as well as becoming great friends. All the early School and Roads Board records are in Donald's handwriting and many times he is both Chairman and Secretary of the number 1 and 2 schools. When George Vesey Stewart went away on business, Donald acted as his spokesperson.

Donald and Maria's son Charles was the mayor of Tauranga from 1915-1917.

Maria died in Tauranga at her son’s home [Charles Macmillan, Fraser Street, Tauranga] on 20 April 1927, aged 86, and is buried with Donald in the Katikati Cemetery.

Capt. Donald Macmillan's headstone at Katikati Cemetery, 1900

Capt. Donald Macmillan's headstone at Katikati Cemetery (1900)

Donald Macmillan mural at Katikati.

The Macmillan Story mural at Katikati


by Ellen McCormack (2011).


For more information:

Captain Macmillan, A Remarkable Life and Legacy by Wendy Whyte (Historical Review: Bay of Plenty Journal of History Vol. 59, No. 2, November 2011)

Review Pending: currently reverted to non-disputed public version # 38

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Donald Theodore Macmillan (1833-1896)

First Names:Donald Theodore
Last Name:Macmillan
Date of Birth:12 September 1833
Place of Birth:Ballachulish,
Country of birth:Scotland
Date of death:24 May 1896
Place of death:Castle Grace, Katikati
Place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Date of Arrival:16 December 1881
Name of the ship:May Queen
Date of sailing:26 August 1881
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Katikati
Sailed from:London, England
Spouses name:Maria Elise Barca and Margaret Thomson Campbell (1828-1877)
Spouses date of birth:1841
Spouses place of birth:Holstein
Spouses date of death:20 April 1927
Spouses place of death:Tauranga
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Date of marriage:12 September 1870
Place of marriage:St Croix, West Indies
Fathers name:John Macmillan
Mothers name:Mary Ann Kennedy