Margaret Gammell

1738 - unknown


Margaret was born on 3 August 1738.  On 10 September 1756, she married James Donald, merchant.  He was the eldest son (of 15 children) of Robert Donald, a prominent Greenock merchant, and Christian Lees.  Margaret and James appear to have had at least two children, Robert Donald born on 3 August 1757, and Margaret Donald, born on 1 September 1759. They appear to have also had another son, Andrew, who is mentioned in the deposition made by George Charles Jones on behalf of Margaret Jones (Donald) in 1806. We know nothing about Andrew, but that it is clear from the deposition that he had died before 1806.


No record of the date of death of Margaret has been found.


Robert Donald

1756 - about 1806


Robert was a merchant in Greenock (James and Robert Donald and Company); the James presumably being his father.  At some stage he moved to Petersburg, Virginia where he continued as a merchant, but died in about 1806. The fact that Margaret was his sole heir implies that he either never married, or if he did his wife and any children all predeceased him.



Margaret Donald

1759 – 1829


Margaret was born in Greenock on 1 September 1759 and married George Charles Jones, a Captain in the 43rd (Argyllshire) Regiment, in Edinburgh on 7 June 1805. 


In 1806 she was the sole executrix of her brother, Robert. George Charles and Margaret lived at Brooklands, Kirkpatrick Durham in Kirkcudbrightshire.  Margaret died on 13 August 1829. 


After her death, George Charles married Helen Couper.  George died on 7 November 1835.


In his will he established a bequest to provide education to poor children of Kirkpatrick Durham and the surrounding area. This was established as the “Brooklands Bequest”.  This bequest received his entire house, estate and property, save that an annual allowance was to be paid to his second wife, Helen Couper for her life, and to an unmarried niece, Elsitha Jones, for her life. Helen died on 16 May 1850, and Elsitha in 1846. This bequest ran independently until 1933 when it was incorporated into the Stewartry Educational Trust. 


From this we can conclude that George Charles and Margaret had no children.




All the above appears to fit with the evidence, but for the following anomalies. 


In the deposition made on Margaret’s behalf in 1806, Margaret’s mother is referred to as Elizabeth, which it of course wasn’t, it was Margaret (Gammell) who was married to James.  There are three possible explanations.   First Margaret and James disappeared and there was another Donald family with everything else the same, but with a mother called Elizabeth – this is just possibly but doesn’t seem likely; Second, Margaret had changed her name so that she was commonly known as Elizabeth.  Finally, that this was simply a mistake made by George Charles or by the writer of the document.  One of these latter two seems more likely.


On the Gravestone in Kirkpatrick Douglas, it says that Margaret was in her 58th year when she died in 1829, which would give her a birth year of about 1770, but we know she was born in 1759. 


Finally, in the will of James Gammell, the banker in 1826, a certain James Gammell Donald was left 100 guineas, and this man might have been grandson, but if such a grandson existed, we don’t know of him.  It could equally likely have been James Donald (born in 1769), the eldest son of his wife’s (Janet Gammell nee Geils) sister (Grizel Donald nee Geils).  This is given some weight since he left a bequest of £50 to Benjamin Andrew Donald who was the grandson of Grizel, who was left orphaned in 1806 when his father, Andrew, (James Donald’s brother) had died.


Both anomalies and who James Gammell Donald was, are mysteries to be solved.