John MacDonald

Last Name: 
First Name: 
Grave Plot No.: 
Rev. [Reverend]
Date of birth: 
year of death: 
date of death: 
Ethnicity / Origin: 
Age at death: 
Full Epitaph: 
In memory of the Rev John MacDonald, Missionary minister of the Free Church of Scotland, who was born in Edinburgh on the 17th of Feb. 1807, landed in Calcutta on the 4th of Feb. 1838, and who fell Asleep in Jesus on the 1st of September 1847. This tablet is affectionately inscribed by his tenderly attached widow. “Christ sent me to preach the Gospel”-1 Corinth i.17 “Believe on the Lord and thou shalt be saved”- Acts xvi.31
Missionary Minister, Free Church of Scotland
Place of birth / origin: 
Places mentioned 1: 
Place of death: 
places mentioned 2: 
Cause of death: 
Detailed information: 

John MacDonald was a missionary of the Free Church Mission. He was born in 1807 in Edinburgh and moved to Rosshire with his father (Rev John MacDonald of Urquhart), who made widespread efforts for the evangelisation of the Celtic population there, and hence was designated the apostle of the North or the apostle of the Highlands. His father was then period minister of the Gaelic Church in the Scottish capital, but was subsequently translated to Ferintosh. In 1819 he moved to Aberdeen to complete his theological and general studies, being educated in King’s College, Aberdeen, where he won the Huttonian prize. He worked as a private tutor in a family for some time. In 1825 he started learning the Gaelic language to be able to preach among the Highlanders. He was licensed on 06.01.1830 and in October 1830 took charge of a small Scottish congregation in Chadwell, St. Pentonville, London, and on 17.03.1831 was ordained its pastor.

He was pastor at the Scotch Church, River Terrace, Islington till 1837 when at the suggestion of Rev Dr Duff, the Committee of the General Assembly for Foreign Missions proposed to him to go to Calcutta as a missionary. On 19.12.1837 he left for the east on the Marion and arrived in India with his wife on 17.02.1838 to assist the Scottish Mission in Bengal. When in Calcutta, he wrote The Doctrine of Divine Grace, as Perverted by Romanism; Illustrative Incidents-I. Who Would not Pray? 2. Who Would Delay?, Johnstone and Hunter; Memories and Manuscripts of Isobel Hood.

His burial service on Wednesday the 1st of September 1844 was attended by ministers and missionaries of the different denominations in Calcutta and even clergymen belonging to the Established Church of England. [Ref: The Bengal Obituary: Or, a Record to Perpetuate the Memory of Departed Worth: Being a Compilation of Tablets and Monumental Inscriptions from Various Parts of the Bengal and Agra Presidencies, Holmes and Co., 1851: 239] Mr Macdonald was one of the editors of the Calcutta Christian Observer and the secretary of the Calcutta Schoolbook Society. He held services at the house of one G. Alexander of the Civil Service and then at that of Mr Hawkins of the Sudder Court. He was vocal in criticising the performance of an Oratorio in Calcutta as a profanation of the name of Christ. He also wrote tracts on going to the ball (dance) and duelling. Besides this, he wrote on the Government's observance of Hindu holidays. When the Scottish Church saw its rift, Macdonald joined the Free Church with his missionary brethren.

Some journals portray Rev MacDonald in a good light. For instance, the English Presbyterian Messenger writes “[m]uch loved was John MacDonald in the inner circle of those disciples who here on earth most closely surround the Saviour.”, and the British Quarterly Review maintains that he was “[a] man of fervent piety, of intense self-devotedness to his Master’s work.”

Some of his publications are listed below:
The Government of India charged with Spiritual Treason, 1844,
An Address at the Ordination of Elders,1844.
The First Fruits of our Flock,in thegrave,1845.
Duelling Spiritually Considered,1845.
Memorial of the late Koilas Chunder Mookerjee,1845.
Thoughts on the Observance of Hindoo Holidays,1846.
The Ministration of the Holy Spirit, 1847.

A lithograph of John Macdonald by Colesworthy Grant is included below.


Carey, W. H. Oriental Christian Biography, Containing Biographical Sketches of Distinguished Christians Who Have Lived and Died in the East. J. Thomas. Baptist Mission Press, 1850.
Macdonald, John. A Pastor’s Memorial to His Former Flock: Consisting of Sermons and Addresses. 1842.
MacLeod, Wyllie. A Brief Memorial of the Rev. John MacDonald, Missionary of the Free Church of Scotland. Carey and Mendes, 1847.

Tomb placed by: 
His widow
Buried by: 
J. McKail, Dissenting Minister
Photo name/s: 
Biblical References: 
1 Corinthians i.17; Acts xvi.31
This record has been created by:: 

Purba Hossain