Major General Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald

(Fighting Mac)

1853 - 1903

Soldier. Born at Muir of Allangrange on the Black Isle, MacDonald was the son of a crofter. He worked with a draper in Inverness, before joining the army, to serve in the Gordon Highlanders. His gallantry in Afghanistan saw him being promoted from the ranks (1880), a rare occurrence at the time. He went on to serve with honour at the Battle of Omdurman in the Anglo-Sudanese campaign. MacDonald became a national hero and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1901. He led the Highland Brigade during the Boer War and took command of the army in Ceylon in 1902. MacDonald's name and face was widely used to sell products, but he had difficulty with his heroic status.

In 1903, questions were raised about his sexuality and allegations made about his behaviour in Ceylon. There were suspicions that the allegations were fabricated by MacDonald's enemies. He was despised by some of the military establishment, who considered themselves of a superior class and looked down on MacDonald's thick Scottish accent, 'uncultured' ways and humble beginnings. Before any trial, the allegations were raised publicly in the International Herald Tribune newspaper and the humiliated MacDonald shot himself in a Paris hotel room.

His embarrassed family buried MacDonald in the early hours of the morning at Edinburgh's Dean Cemetery. However, a large crowd turned out because he remained well respected in Scotland. An obelisk incorporating a bronze bust was erected over his grave in 1905. He is further remembered by the National Memorial in Dingwall and items of memorabilia are held by Dingwall Museum.

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