National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Sir John Alexander Macdonald (1815-1891)

Sir John Alexander Macdonald (1815-1891)

First Prime Minister of Canada

John Alexander Macdonald's family emigrated to Upper Canada when he was five years old. He was called to the Bar in 1836 and ran a successful legal practice. He was elected to the Canadian assembly as a Conservative in 1844, took over as party leader in Upper Canada in 1856 and ruled as joint premier with the leader of Lower Canada. During the 1860s he was involved in the constitutional negotiations that led to Confederation and in 1871 was appointed the first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada. He was defeated in 1873 and succeeded by fellow Scot, Alexander Mackenzie, but returned as Prime Minister in 1878. He died in Ottawa on 6 June 1891 not long after winning another general election. A marble bust in St Paul's Cathedral marks his achievements as a statesman.

Birth in 1815

John Alexander McDonald was born on 10 January 1815, the son of Hugh McDonald, agent and Helen Shaw. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Glasgow gives the witnesses to the baptism, which took place at an unspecified date in January, as Donald and James McDonald.

Birth and baptism entry for John Alexander Macdonald

Birth and baptism entry for John Alexander Macdonald (12 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 644-1/21, page 198