Friday, 15 August 2014

John Milne Donald

Scottish Landscape Painter

Portrait by James S. Stewart

John Milne Donald was born in Nairn, Scotland.

His birth doesn’t appear to have been registered, so it may have been anytime from 1816 to 1821. He is believed to have been the son of Thomas Donald and Ann Milne who married on 24th March 1818 in the Parish of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen.

Little is known of his early life but his marriage can be found on the IGI
( at Glasgow on 4th March 1849
(Mary’s surname is listed as ‘Bradie’)

They are found on the 1851 Census with their baby daughter Ellen.

Mary’s widowed mother and her sisters were living at the same address -
11 Killermont Street, (Barony Parish), Glasgow as follows:

Helen Bredie, Head, Widow (of Manufacturer), age 71, born Glasgow
Janet Bredie, Daughter, age 31, Shopwoman, born Glasgow
Ebenezer Paterson, Grandson, age 14, Bookbinder Apprentice, born Glasgow
John Milne Donald, Head, age 30, Artist (Master), born Inverness
Mary Donald (nee Bredie), Daughter, age 28, born Glasgow
Ellen Donald, Grandchild, age 1 month, born Glasgow

Note that his age is stated as 30, which would make his year of birth 1821
and he is also listed as ‘Head’ of the household, so perhaps the two families
lived next door to one another.

On the Kelvin, 1858

By 1861 John and his family were living in the village of Rhu (or Row), on the east
side of Gare Loch in the County of Dunbartonshire.

The 1861 Census shows that their family had grown:

John Milne Donald, Head, age 41, Landscape Painter, born Nairn
Mary Donald, Wife, age 37, born Glasgow
Ellen Donald, Daughter, age 10, Scholar, born Glasgow
Annie Donald, Daughter, age 9, Scholar, born Glasgow
Thomas W. Donald, Son, age 8, Scholar, born Glasgow

Note that his age is stated as 41, which would make his year of birth 1820.

Greenock from Helensburgh, 1860

The head of Loch Lomond looking to Ben Vorlich, 1860

Picnic by the lake, 1863

Mary Donald, John’s wife died on the 23rd September 1865 at
West Princes Street, Helensburgh aged 46.
Her Death Certificate states that she was the daughter of
William Bredie, Merchant and Helen Bredie nee Dawson.
Her cause of death was Tubercular Disease of the Lungs and Intestines.

The following year on the 14th July 1866 John died aged 48
at Gartnavel Royal Lunatic Asylum, Partick.
His cause of death is listed as Epilepsy.

The informant of his death was an Asylum Attendant who gave John’s parents as
Alexander Donald, Writer and Annie Donald nee Forbes.
(Where these names came from no-one will ever know!)

John, his wife Mary and son Tom William Donald are buried in
Sighthill Cemetery, Glasgow.

The Inscription reads:

This stone is placed over the grave of
JOHN MILNE DONALD, Landscape Painter
By a few attached friends and admirers of his genius.
Born at Nairn in 1817, died at Glasgow 1st July 1866
MARY BREDIE his wife died 23rd September 1865 aged 46 years
Also TOM WILLIAM DONALD, Artist, his only son
Died 31st January 1883 aged 29 years
(Note the wrong date of death for John)

John’s eldest daughter Ellen (or Helen) married William Smith, an accountant
at 259 Renfrew Street, Glasgow on 14th June 1869

She died at Kilcreggan on 12th June 1885 aged 35 and is buried with
her husband in Cathcart Cemetery.


  1. John Milne Donald is one ot the greatest artist I have ever know! I love his paintings!

    Greetings, Caroline
    accident claims Scotland

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