I’ve been looking into my Macdonell of Keppoch ancestors, although that might be McDonnell. My great great mother was Christina Mary Theresa McDonnell, the daughter of Angus McDonnell, 20th Chief and Christina MacNab. According to The Jacobite Peerage by Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval, etc, she married George ‘Keith’ Maitland at Keppoch in 1877 (see here).
By strange coincidence, Petronilla Maitland thinks Keith lost a lot of money on a coffee plantation in Ceylon, but was effectively saved by his wealthy wife Theresa who converted the Presbyterian Scot to Catholicism (see more here). I hoping to catch-up with Petronilla and her son John soon to find out more my Maitland relatives, but am a bit at a loss as far as the McDonnells are concerned. Historically, there’s both the Wikipedia and Electric Scotland, as well as the Macdonald of Keppoch site. My cousin Hamish has traced Christina Mary ‘Theresa’ back through her father Angus, 20th Chief, to Alexander (AlastairCarrach of Keppoch) MacDonald (1st of Keppoch), grandson of Robert II King of Scotland. In fact, Hamish goes on show the Viking ancestry here and here, which I’ll try and tie-up with some other family myths (see here).
Angus and Christina spent all their married life at Keppoch, although by this time it was rented from MacIntosh. Angus died in l855 from smallpox which he caught whilst caring for the victims of an epidemic in Glasgow. Christina, still young, was left to bring up their large family of twelve, three of whom died in fancy or early childhood. The family was still living at Keppoch when Mother Celestine left.
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland site has Keppoch House listed as being built by Ranald Macdonell, 17th Chief of Keppoch whereas my cousin has the 17th Chief as Angus. So I hope this photo I found on Georgiana Molloy’s Blog is the right house as it looks rather splendid:
Rita Macdonald has some more information about Keppoch House on the page about Theresa’s sister Frances, who became Mother Celestine du Bon Pasteur, Second Mother General of the Congratation of the Sisters of Assumption. There’s also a little snippet about Frances having a happy childhood and being a gay and happy young girl when she went to London to her sister Theresa for the season. I also like the following poem by Frances to her family and home, on leaving for the convent:
FAREWELL TO HER HOME KEPPOCH
My mother and my sisters dear,
Grieve not that we must part,
Ah! Dry away that falling tear
Take not my loss to heart.
For many, many happy years,
We’ve lived a life of love,
And though we part with blinding tears,
We’ll meet in bliss above.
Ah, See how short our life will be,
It’s passing swift away,
How soon will come eternity,
That bright undying day.
The brightest life is full of grief,
Our crosses come each hour,
Our happy days, how very brief,
How low the dark clouds lour.
Then who would seek for pleasure here,
Where all must fade and die,
Look up, the sky is bright and clear,
Our home of love is nigh.
Ah hear my fond, my last adieu,
To my dear highland home,
I loved it with a love so true,
And better love has come.
The river where I wandered oft,
I never more will hear,
Its murmuring with a voice so soft,
In memories longing ear.
Each flower, each stream, each walk and tree
Tho from them I depart,
Their image, Oh! Twill ever be,
Imprimed upon my heart.
But joyfully I leave them all,
To follow Him I love,
Oh! Could he slight the tender call,
Which comes from that sweet love!
And yet this pure weak human heart,
Will feel a bitter pain,
Thus from you all, so loved, to part,
When, when to meet again.
But, said I not this life was brief,
How quick our sorrows fade,
And those who hear the greatest grief,
Shall be the highest paid.
Our soul is like a vessel cast,
Upon a troubled sea,
Each storm is greater than the last,
Our struggle brave must be.
I cannot trust to my own sail,
To bear me safe across,
My guide is one who cannot fail,
To save my bark from loss.
Then fare thee well, my sweet ones dear,
Farewell all those I love,
We were not made for pleasures here,
Joy waits for us above.
Oh! My God’s grace attend us here,
And bear us safe through life,
To His blest will our heads we bow,
He’ll help us through our strife.
Adieu! adieu! Once more adieu!
Oh! breathe one prayer for me,
We’ll meet with love so fond and true,
In bright eternity.