James Donaldson (1751-1830)

James Donaldson (1751-1830)

Newspaper editor and philanthropist

James Donaldson was the successful editor of the 'Edinburgh Advertiser' which had been founded by his father. He married Jane Gillespie in 1792 and they lived at Princes Street Edinburgh and at Broughton Hall. He left part of his publishing fortune to found a school for poor, mostly deaf children in Edinburgh. The building was designed by William Henry Playfair. It was known as Donaldson's Hospital, later Donaldson's School for the Deaf.

Birth in 1751

James Donaldson was born on 3 December 1751, the son of Alexander Donaldson, bookseller in Edinburgh, and Ann Marshall. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Edinburgh is the last on a page dated Tuesday 3 December 1751. It includes the names of two witnesses and of the minister who baptised the child the same day.

Birth and baptism entry for James Donaldson

Birth and baptism entry for James Donaldson (27 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/27, page 175

Death in 1830

James Donaldson died on 19 October 1830 at Broughton Hall. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh gives his age at death as 82 years and the place of interment as his own tomb in St John's or City Ground.

Burial entry for James Donaldson

Death entry for James Donaldson (12 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/100, page 178

Testament of James Donaldson

James Donaldson's  inventory, trust disposition, settlement, last will and testament and codicils were registered at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 20 January 1831 (SC70/1/43, pp 773-793).

It includes his plan to build and fund a hospital for boys and girls in Edinburgh to be called Donaldson's Hospital with preference to those of the name Donaldson or Marshall.

Detail from will of James Donaldson

Detail from James Donaldson's last will and testament (50 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC70/1/43, page 773