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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Alexander Macdonell

Appleton's & Klos Biographies - A Stan Klos Company

MACDONELL, Alexander, Canadian R. C. bishop, born in Glen Urquhart, in the Glengarry Highlands, Scotland, in 1762; died in Dumfries, Scotland, 14 January, 1840. He was sent at an early age to the Scotch college at Valladolid, Spain, where he studied for the priesthood, and, after his ordination in 1787, returned to Scotland and did missionary duty in Lochaber.

 

At this period the rise in the price of wool and meat, owing to the development of manufactures in the Lowlands, decided several of the Highland chiefs to substitute large sheep-farms for small holdings on their property. In 1792 Father Macdonell, who was then laboring on the borders between Inverness and Perth, endeavored to secure employment in the Lowlands for the evicted Highlanders who were too poor to emigrate. He persuaded Glasgow manufacturers to take 600 of them into their employ; but the stagnation of trade, caused by the French revolution, threw them out of work.

 

Then the missionary convened a meeting of representative Roman Catholics at Fort Augustus in 1794, and the services of the Clan Macdonell were tendered to the king. They offered to serve in any part of his majesty's dominions under their chieftain, Macdonell of Glengarry. The offer was accepted, the 1st Glengarry fencible regiment was organized, and Father Macdonell was appointed chaplain, although such an appointment was contrary to law. They served with other Highland regiments in the Irish rebellion of 1798, and traditions of the forbearance and humanity of these Scotch regiments still linger among the Irish peasantry.

 

The regiment was disbanded in 1803, and Father Macdonell appealed to the English government to assign its members a tract of land in Canada. The English ministry was at this time doubtful as to whether they could keep Canada, and offered to settle the Highlanders in Trinidad instead, but in 1804 a grant of 160,000 acres was made in what is now Glengarry county, Canada. Father Macdonell accompanied his clan, and after their arrival the whole work, not only of founding churches and schools, but of organizing the settlement, fell on his shoulders.

 

In 1812 he raised again a regiment of Glengarry fencibles and hastened to the defense of St. Lawrence river. His services were duly acknowledged by the government, from which he received a pension of £400, and afterward £600 a year, and he was also formally thanked by the prince regent.

 

Father Macdonell was made vicar apostolic of Upper Canada on 12 January, 1819, and received episcopal consecration in Quebec in December, 1820, under the title of Bishop of Regiopolis in partibus. He then returned to Upper Canada and fixed his episcopal residence at Kingston. With the exception of Kingston, the only towns that had Roman Catholic churches were Charlottenburg and Toronto. The Roman Catholic population in his whole vicariate hardly amounted to 30,000, of whom more than half were Indians, and to minister to them he had only two priests. Under his administration, however, the number of Roman Catholics grew rapidly, and it was soon found necessary to change the vicariate into a regular see.

 

The city of Kingston was therefore erected into a titular bishopric, 18 January, 1826 by Pope Leo XII. in favor of Dr. Macdonell, to whom Cardinal Weld was assigned as coadjutor, but the latter declined to go to Canada. The rest of his episcopate was spent in founding new parishes, erecting churches and schools, and forming new missions in the depths of the solitary forests, of his immense diocese.

 

He founded the Highland society, afterward destined to have no inconsiderable influence in Canada, and in 1837 he took steps to establish a Roman Catholic seminary for Upper Canada to be called Regiopolis college. To procure funds for this purpose and to stimulate emigration among the Highlanders, he visited Europe in 1839. He spent some time in London conferring with the English ministry, and then went to Inverness, where he entered upon the work for which he had come to Scotland.

 

He went to Ireland in October to attend a meeting of the Irish bishops, and was prostrated by sickness there, but returned to Scotland, intending to go to London for the purpose of arranging with the English ministry an emigration of Highlanders to Canada on an extensive scale. Bishop Macdonell was a man of liberal views and unbounded charity. During his episcopate he built forty-eight churches.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

MACDONELL, Alexander, Canadian R. C. bishop, born in Glen Urquhart, in the Glengarry Highlands, Scotland, in 1762; died in Dumfries, Scotland, 14 January, 1840. He was sent at an early age to the Scotch college at Valladolid, Spain, where he studied for the priesthood, and, after his ordination in 1787, returned to Scotland and did missionary duty in Lochaber. At this period the rise in the price of wool and meat, owing to the development of manufactures in the Lowlands, decided several of the Highland chiefs to substitute large sheep-farms for small holdings on their property. In 1792 Father Macdonell, who was then laboring on the borders between Inverness and Perth, endeavored to secure employment in the Lowlands for the evicted Highlanders who were too poor to emigrate. He persuaded Glasgow manufacturers to take 600 of them into their employ; but the stagnation of trade, caused by the French revolution, threw them out of work. Then the missionary convened a meeting of representative Roman Catholics at Fort Augustus in 1794, and the services of the Clan Macdonell were tend-Bred to the king. They offered to serve in any part of his majesty's dominions under their chieftain, Macdonell of Glengarry. The offer was accepted, the 1st Glengarry fencible regiment was organized, and Father Macdonell was appointed chaplain, although such an appointment was contrary to law. They served with other Highland regiments in the Irish rebellion of 1798, and traditions of the forbearance and humanity of these Scotch regiments still linger among the Irish peasantry. The regiment was disbanded in 1803, and Father Macdonell appealed to the English government to assign its members a tract of land in Canada. The English ministry was at this time doubtful as to whether they could keep Canada, and offered to settle the Highlanders in Trinidad in: stead, but in 1804 a grant of 160,000 acres was made in what is now Glengarry county, Canada. Father Macdonell accompanied his clan, and after their arrival the whole work, not only of founding churches and schools, but of organizing the settlement, fell on his shoulders. In 1812 he raised again a regiment of Glengarry fencibles and hastened to the defence of St. Lawrence river. His services were duly acknowledged by the government, from which he received a pension of £400, and afterward £600 a year, and he was also formally thanked by the prince regent. Father Macdonell was made vicar apostolic of Upper Canada on 12 January, 1819, and received episcopal consecration in Quebec in December, 1820, under the title of Bishop of Regiopolis in partibus. He then returned to Upper Canada and fixed his episcopal residence at Kingston. With the exception of Kingston, the only towns that had Roman Catholic churches were Charlottenburg and Toronto. The Roman Catholic population in his whole vicariate hardly amounted to 30,000, of whom more than half were Indians, and to minister to them he had only two priests. Under hisadministration, however, the num-berof Roman Catholics grew rapidly, and it was soon found necessary to change the vicariate into a regular see. The city of Kingston was therefore erected into a titular bishopric, 18 January, 1826 by Pope Leo XII. in favor of Dr. Macdonell, to whom Cardinal Weld was assigned as coadjutor, but the latter declined to go to Canada. The rest of his episcopate was spent in founding new parishes, erecting churches and schools, and forming new missions in the depths of the solitary forests, of his immense diocese. He founded the Highland society, afterward destined to have no inconsiderable influence in Canada, and in 1837 he took steps to establish a Roman Catholic seminary for Upper Canada to be called Regiopolis college. To procure funds for this purpose and to stimulate emigration among the Highlanders, he visited Europe in 1839. He spent some time in London conferring with the English ministry, and then went to Inverness, where he entered upon the work for which he had come to Scotland. He went to Ireland in October to attend a meeting of the Irish bishops, and was prostrated by sickness there, but returned to Scotland, intending to go to London for the purpose of arranging with the English ministry an emigration of Highlanders to Canada on an extensive scale. Bishop Macdonell was a man of liberal views and unbounded charity. During his episcopate he built forty-eight churches.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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