Person NameMacdonald; Colonel; Lieutenant John (1759-1831); Military engineer
ForenamesLieutenant John
EpithetMilitary engineer
ActivityJohn Macdonald was born on Skye in 1759, the son of Allan Macdonald of Kingsburgh and Flora Macdonald, the Jacobite heroine, his wife. Educated at Portree and Edinburgh, he acquired an Indian cadetship in 1780 and became a military engineer because of an early aptitude. He moved to the Bengal Engineers in 1783 and was posted to Sumatra three years later. There he was raised to the local rank of Captain and commander of artillery, and spent his spare time making observations and maps which are now held in the British Museum. He was made 1st. Lieutenant in 1794, and in 1796 took sick leave home. Back in Edinburgh he became Commandant of the Royal Edinburgh Volunteer Artillery. He retired from the Bengal Engineers on half-pay in 1800 and was made Lieutenant Colonel of the Alpine Fencible Infantry, and served with them for a year in Ireland before they were disbanded. He published translations of French military works, then moved to Dover to work on the Cinque Ports. Later work on military telegraphs took him to Exeter where he settled, and was much involved in charity work. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1800 and was one of the original members of the Asiatic Society. He died in Exeter in 1831.
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