Record

CodeNA6692
Dates1794-1830
Person NameDonaldson; Joseph (1794-1830); author, soldier, surgeon
SurnameDonaldson
ForenamesJoseph
Epithetauthor, soldier, surgeon
ActivityJoseph Donaldson (1794-1830), author and soldier, was born in Glasgow were his father worked for a mercantile house. As a school-boy he ran away to sea to the West Indies. On his return he went back to school but in 1809 he again ran away and enlisted in the 94th Scotch Brigade. He fought in the Peninsular War, 1811-1814, reaching the rank of sergeant, 1815.

After the war the Brigade was stationed in Ireland where Donaldson married Mary MacCarthy, with whom he had ten children. On his discharge from the army in 1815, they moved to Glasgow where he published his 'Scenes and Sketches in Ireland'. The family then moved to London where he studied anatomy and surgery, and he enlisted in the service of the East India Company. He was employed by them firstly as a recruiting-sergeant in London and Glasgow and then became the head clerk in their Glasgow district staff-office. During this time he published 'Recollections of the Eventfull Life of a Soldier' and 'Story of the War in the Peninsula', and also gained his qualification as a surgeon from Glasgow University.

In 1827 he set up practice as a surgeon in Oban but was unsuccessful there, so he moved his family back to Glasgow and travelled alone to London and Paris to try to improve his medical prospects. He died in Paris of pulmonary disease in 1830. Donaldson's publications were republished under the collective title of ‘Recollections of the Eventful Life of a Soldier’ (London and Glasgow, 1855), for the benefit of his widow and a surviving daughter.
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