Stewart, MacLean, MacDonnell History

Brief History of the Stewart, MacLean and MacDonnell Families.

Henrietta Eleanor Stewart was the eldest daughter of Charles Grey Stewart, she was born in Quebec. In 1821, Henrietta Eleanor married William Phillips, son of John and Anne Phillips of Quebec. William was Flour Inspector and Quebec City grain merchant.

Bijou the Stewart family home in 1820’s now a boys school in Quebec.

Henrietta’s mother was Eleanor Morris “Nellie” MacLean. She married Charles Grey Stewart in 1801. Nellie was the daughter of Donald MacLean. Donald MacLean emigrated from Edinburgh, Scotland, to New York in 1780, to join his uncle Dr Donald MacLean, a surgeon in Water Street, Manhattan.

Donald MacLean

Donald MacLean was born in Ardton, Mull, Scotland, son of John MacLean and Margaret Campbell.  The Isle of Mull is the seat of the Clan MacLean where Duart Castle is still owned by the family. MacLean descendants can join in reunions and events.

. Donald's father John MacLean was son of Lieut. Colonel Charles MacLean 5th Laird of Drimmin and Morven, who fought valiantly and died along with three sons at Culloden. (his story is told below in a letter.)
When young Donald arrived in New York in 1780, his Uncle, ( his father John MacLean's brother) Dr Donald MacLean, had recently married (1780) Henrietta MacDonnell, the daughter of another surgeon, Captain Allan MacDonnell of the 84th Emigrant Regiment of Breakish, Inverness-shire (later of Glengarry, Ontario).  Two years later, Dr Donald died suddenly. The following year, on 26th March 1783, young Donald married his uncle’s widow, Henrietta MacDonnell MacLean.

At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), U.E.Loyalists in New York were evacuated to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax became the offical entry point for Canada (much like Ellis Island in New York).

In 1786, Donald and Henrietta McLean, along their two children Nellie and John, came to Halifax to join  Henrietta's father, Captain Allan MacDonnell, of the 84th Regt., who by then resided on a farm in Quebec.  Captain Allan MacDonnell, was deeded land after the war, on the St Lawrence River near Cornwall and farmed there until his death. It is unknown whether Henrietta’s mother was living or if she had other siblings.

Soon afterwards the young family emigrated to York, (now known as Toronto) where Donald, became a clerk to the Legislature Assembly of Upper Canada.

Map showing Allan MacDonnells land.


My dear Nellie,

In my last letter to you I recollect I therein said that I would give you some idea of your father’s connections at home for the purpose of asking Mr MacDonnell, the Priest, what questions you may think proper. He seems to have a very correct knowledge of them.

My father (*John MacLean) being drowned when I was very young, I have no recollection of him. He left seven children. My oldest brother followed the sea, died in 1795 of the yellow fever returning from the West Indies, it was supposed he caught it from extraordinary fatigue in defending a fort on the island of Granada when attacked by the French. The Commandant himself gave him the local rank of Major of Artillery Commanding the Seamen. His commission and very handsome letter from the Commanding Officer were found in his trunk after the French were repulsed. He had special leave to depart with his vessel although the fleet was embargoed. He was part owner and master and his intention was to have left the sea until the French war should be at an end.

My younger brother John served with the 79th Regt. Commanded by his first cousin Col. Allan Cameron, as Lieut. while on the Continent and afterwards he got a commission in a Regt. in the West Indies where he died on the Island of Jamaica.

After my father’s death my uncle Allan MacLean of Drimmie(n) in Morven opposite Tobermoray in the Island of Mull, took charge of my brothers and sisters and what property my father was worth at the time of his death on condition of buying my mother’s jointure annually settled up on her previous to her marriage.

One of my Uncles daughters is married to Dr Hector MacLean who went out as State Physician to the Earl of Elgin when he went on that splendid Embassy to the Port of Constantinople. A man of uncommon ability in his profession, he has lately been unfortunate being seized with a palsy which occasioned his retiring from the Service on 10 shillings a day, half pay. Mrs MacLean is a complete mistress of music (as Col. MacLean informed me) and other accomplishments. Mr MacDonnell the priest informed me that they had some though of coming to Montreal next summer. My aunt, Mrs MacLean of Drimmie and some of her daughters live at Edinburgh since my uncle’s death. As I am informed her only son and my first cousin Donald MacLean is a writer to the “Signet” there. John a younger brother died in the west Indies when a very young surgeon of the 79th Regt. In Martinique.

Charles, the oldest son married his first cousin, a daughter of Sir Allan MacLean by whom he had no children and at my uncle’s death he succeeded to his estates via the Ancient Entailed one called “Drimmie”, another called Kinlochaline (or Head of the Beautiful Arm of the Sea”) which title the eldest son was always known by , and other estates in the Island of Mull “Bowles”. On this estate Charles built a house worth about ten thousand pounds and at the time of my uncle’s death his different estates were worth upwards of two thousand, five hundred pounds per annum. Since then I am informed Charles spent the whole and two different estates (left to him) to satisfy his extravagance and I am informed these were put up for sale undervalued particularly in his last estate in consequence of the elegance of the house which to save the window tax many of these were closed up. The Drimmie estate being entailed on the family, a certain number of which to consent was absolutely necessary. That being the case it was reported that I was dead for the purpose of affecting the sale. My uncle was a great sportsman and his estates were well calculated to indulge that pleasure. During the American war had had a barbican erected for the protection of his property against the French, Dutch and Spaniards mounting six pieces of canon which in a few moments could be well manned by his own tenants if necessary.

The greatest part if not the whole of the Duke of Argyle’s estate in that Shire, as I am informed, worth about fifteen thousand pounds, belonged to the MacLean’s, which by inter-marriage with the Dukes of Argyle, got possession. Our clan thought that Sir Allan MacLean had the best title. The MacLean’s joined and raised a subscription for the purpose of recovering the property which Sir Allan was unable to do himself. My uncle Drimmie was empowered and employed as the active person in inducting the suit and everything was done in his name. The magnitude of the object in view was so great that it took up a number of years and was the second largest suit inducted at Edinburgh to that period. If I recollect it was decided in 1774. The proceedings, which formed a large folio, was burned at Cape Rouge with the rest of my papers. All that was recovered was five hundred pounds per annum. The able advocate Rowley-Campbell was employed by the Duke of Argyle’s …….prescription which was about one hundred pounds paid in at different times would have recovered the whole property claimed.

My mother’s maiden name being Campbell, I know less of her connections. She was born in the Island of Mull……………………..

My Grandfather (*Lt. Col. Charles MacLean 5th Laird of Drimmin and Morven) on my father’s side was Lt. in the Navy of Queen Anne. After her demise he as not fond of the succession. At the time the Pretender arrived in Scotland, he raised a Regt. which he commanded at Culloden in 1746, where he was killed with three of his sons. My uncle Drimmie was wounded through the neck and my father in the arm.

My Grandfather’s paper’s saved them from being made prisoners. There is a work that you might have seen at Riviere du Loup which I think Peter Fraser took and did not return, which I would be happy to have and if you will please to endeavour to procure from him for me which relates to my Grandfather as nearly as I can recollect as follows. “ Col. MacLean of Drimmie with his Regt. When warmly engaged was informed of the death of one of his sons. He replied that his death would be revenged. He was a man of greater personal courage than prudence. He immediately attacked and personally killed three or four Dragoons mounted before he was killed.”

After which all the buildings on his estate were burned and all his available property was carried away. My uncle Drimmie and my father embraced the proposal made by the government by which means their property was not confiscated. The entailment in the Drimmie estate was to run in the male line and as I am informed that my cousin Donald has no boys I calculated that poor Allan (my son) might have a chance. Now that I have performed my promise to you I must lay you under and injunction not to show it out of your own family. Make what extracts from it you please and destroy this as I have not the time to copy it correctly but give it to you in its very incorrect form. However I think it will enable you to put questions to any person from that part of the country that will give you more particular information.

My grandfather’s broadsword on which I set so much value is with my sister-in-law.. Charles widow in New Brunswick, and which she offered to me. I intent sending for it on the first opportunity, its is and old offender witnessed the transactions of 1715 and 1745. You must certainly tire before you finish reading the foregoing and I would long before I got this length on that I always take pleasure in writing to you and your family.

Donald MacLean
* added by me to clarify who Donald is speaking of.
In April 1813, Donald MacLean volunteered to defend York against an invading American army during the War of 1812.


YORK 20 APRIL 1813

My dear Nelly,

I am happy in acknowledging the receipt of your most welcome letter of the finest as it conveyed to me the pleasant information that you and your family are well.

Our latest accounts from Detroit indicated a disposition on the part of General Proctor to make a movement toward General Harrison and he has ordered the Indians to assemble at Detroit. His movement must be cautious and formidable as the enemy are strongly fortified and have erected Block houses and have some very heavy pieces of artillery which we have to counteract, the state of the roads was such hitherto that General Proctor could not march with a sufficient train of artillery and necessary stores. It is supposed that the enemy’s force may be from 1,000 to 1,500 men. I am not uneasy as to the result, if they stand a siege, it may take some time before the Blockhouses are battered or burnt, if they do very few of them will go to bed that night or get up the next morning with their night caps on. The Indians will be under no control they are so much against General Harrison.

I hope soon to see Allan down with good tidings from that place. Great preparations are making on both sides at Niagara, nothing of consequence has been attempted by either side - our forced is much augmented at that place by troops from your Province. It is generally supposed that the American fleet from Sackets Harbour will make an attack on this place as soon as the Ice will Permit, if they do so we shall give a good account of them as we are making every preparation to receive them. All the public records of the Province are removed some distance out of town, for my own part I expect no attack on this place by their fleet. The Ladies of York are as ready to come forward for the defence of the place as any of our Heroes, indeed freemen born will never submit to be conquered by the mislead people and common hirelings urged on by the sinister views of an unprincipled mob government.

I hope that Mr Stewart will receive welcome news by the next mail from England. Remember me affectionately to Mr Stewart and the dear children. What happiness that they enjoy such good health although the late season has been so unhealthy in both provinces. I hope that here now you have some arrivals from England. If you should get some Scots or English newspapers, please send me some. Unless they are enclosed in the mail for this place they will not find their way, those you forwarded to Allan he could not receive unless included in the mail. I forward those sent to me by every post to him. I am my dear Nellie,

Your affectionate father

Donald MacLean.

Note: With this letter is a certificate signed by General Sheaffer that the writer of the above was the father of Lieut. Allan MacLean of the 41st Regiment and was killed on the 21st April,(the day after the letter was written) by the Americans in an attack on York.

The American army landed and sacked the fort and York town. There was a catastrophic explosion when the munitions magazine was shelled with great loss of life on both sides. Donald MacLean was killed during the battle. After the town fell, it was looted and burned (which gave the excuse for the British to burn Washington the following year). A plaque commemorating Donald MacLean’s courageous death is placed in the centre of the stone wall surrounding Fort York, Toronto.

Plaque commemoration Donald MacLean at Fort York, Toronto.



Julie at Fort York, Toronto 2010
Lt Allan MacLean

Donald and Henrietta’s son Lt. Allan MacLean, went on to follow the military career’s of the MacLean men, serving in the British Army in Canada against the Americans 1812- 14 as Lieutenant, then as A.D.C to General Proctor and as Brigade Major at the taking of Detroit. Later as a Captain of the 41st he served throughout the Burmese War (1825) and on his return to Canada as Colonel of the 3rd East York Regiment.

He married Miss Stowe and their daughter Caroline MacLean was married to Sir Collingwood Schrieber, General Consulting Engineer to the Dominion Government.Their Children were Eleanor Gertrude who married James Fletcher. They had two daughters Constance who married Sydney A Kelly and Dorothy who married R.S. Lake. Their son Charles died aged 17. Ethel Mary married Travers Lewis and had 2 daughters and 2 sons. Mabel Maud married Lawrence Lambe and had 2 daughters and 1 son. Audrey Louisa married Murray Lay, they had no children.



The Tenth of April 1822
"I certify that D.MacLean, fatehr of Lieut. Allan MacLean of the 31st Regt. held an office at York, the captial of the Province of Upper Canada and he being a resident there, when that place was attacked by the enemy on the 21st April 1813 volunteered his serivices, carried arms on that occasion, gloriously fell opposing the enemy wiht zeal, intrepidity and devotedness which will not be surpassed.
R.H Sheaffer, Lieut. General,
formerly counsul and Administrator in Upper Canada.

It is unsure where Nellie and her children went after Donald’s death. Census Records have them living at York prior to the attack. She may have retreated up the St Lawrence to her father’s farm near St Raphael, near Cornwall Ontario. Captain Allan MacDonnell died in 1826 at St Raphael.

Charles Grey Stewart

Charles Grey Stewart was born in 1773 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Charles Stewart and Miss Grey, who appears to have died in childbirth or soon afterwards.

Charles Stewart, born in 1757, remarried Miss Jane Brayson. His second marriage to Jane Brayson greatly displeased his family and he was disinherited by his father Archibald Stewart. Family legend, perpetrated by handwritten accounts by Stewart descendants, tell us that Archibald Stewart was accused of treason when Bonnie Prince Charlie was allowed to take Edinburgh without a fight in 1745 during the Jacobite rebellion. He was imprisoned for three months, though later, after a long trial, was declared not guilty. In 1759 Archibald Stewart succeeded to the title and estate of Grand Tully.


Old Postcard of Grand Tully with notes on rear.

Charles Stewart, a young lawyer, left Scotland in 1774 with his new wife, for Canada leaving his son to be educated by relatives.


click link above to view letter online with the rest of LeMoine's book.

We are indebted to Mr. John D. Stewart of Quebec for a copy of the following letter from his grandfather, written in 1776, from the Chateau. Mr. Charles Stewart, father of the late Mr. Charles Grey Stewart,
Comptroller of Customs, to his father.)

"HERMITAGE, June 25th, 1776.
"MY DEAR FATHER,--I was overjoyed to hear by a letter from Mr. Gray, that you and my dear mother were in good health. Nothing can give me greater pleasure than to hear so. I was very sorry to hear that my sister had been ill. I hope she is now getting better.

We have been here for this winter in a very dismal situation. The rebels came here and blocked up the town of Quebec, at the end of November. I had been not at all well for two months previous, and at
that time had not got better with a pain which obliged me to stay in the country, where I had been all the summer, although greatly against my inclination.

I was allowed to remain peaceably by the rebels, until the middle of January, when I was taken and carried with sword and (fixed) bayonets before their general; the reason why, was, that after
their attack upon the town on the 31st December, the Yankees were obliged to demand assistance of the country people to join them. I had spoken and done what I could to hinder the people of the village where I resided from going and taking arms with them. This came to light, and I was told at their head-quarters their general, one Arnold, a horse jockey or shipmaster, who then had the command, threatened to send me over to the (New England) colonies. After being detained a ...
and two days, Arnold asked me, if he had not seen me before in Quebec. I said he had, and put him in remembrance of having once dined with him; upon which he said, on condition that I gave my word of honour not to meddle in the matter, he would allow me to go away. I told him the inhabitants were a parcel of scoundrels, and beyond a gentleman's notice; upon this I got off, and remained for upwards of two months without molestation, till the tracks of persons going to town from Beauport had been observed; the country people immediately suspected me, and came with drawn cutlasses to take me; luckily I was from home, having gone two days before about fifteen miles to see an acquaintance, and when I got back they had found out who had gone in (to town).

The ill-nature of the peasants to me made me very uneasy on account of all the papers I had of Mr. Gray's, and dreading their malice much, I determined to go from them. I found out a place about
five miles up amongst the woods, the Hermitage which being vacant I immediately retired to it, and carried all my papers with me. Mr. Peter Stewart had gone from his house in Beauport, down with his
family to the Posts, and gave me the charge of it, and having heard that they (the Yankees) were going to put 150 men in it, I sent all his furniture, &c., to the house I had taken, so that I had my house all furnished; this was in the beginning of March; since which I have remained there. The people who left the town in the fall have not been allowed to go back. A Mr. Vi... one of the most considerable merchants, went in immediately after the 6th of May, (the day when the town people made a sally with about 900 men in all, who drove nigh 3000 of the Yankees from their camp, and relieved the town) and was sent to prison and kept several days. Major John Nairn was so obliging
as to come out 8 or 9 days after that affair to see me; he asked me why I had not been in town. I told him the reason; I had got no pass.

The next day he sent me one; except another, this is the only one which had been granted by the Governor as yet, and it is thought some won't be allowed to go in this summer, why, I cannot say. Every person had liberty to leave or stay by a proclamation for that purpose, but as it is military law, no person dare say it is wrong.

I am going now again to remain in town, having now learned a little of the French. I understand every word almost that is said, although I cannot speak it as well; however I could wish that my brother John knew as much of it. I three days ago wrote him they were gone to Halifax, but am told they are to go from there to New York soon.... I am at present studying a little of the French law. If I do not make use it, it will do me no harm. I expect you have had letters from my brother Andrew....

I wish you would send me your vouchers of all your Jamaica debts I could go easily from here to there. If I cannot get money I can get rum, which sells and will sell, at a great price in this place. I can
only stay there a few months."Nor must we forget the jolly pic-nics  the barons held there some eighty years ago. [329]

On quitting these silent halls, from which the light of other days had departed, and from whence the voice of revelry seems to have fled forever, I re-crossed the little brook, already mentioned, musing on the past. The solitude which surrounds the dwelling and the tomb of the dark-haired child of the wilderness, involuntarily brought to mind that beautiful passage of Ossian, [330] relating to the daughter of Reuthamir, the "white-bosomed" Moina:--"I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they
were desolate. The fire had resounded in the halls, and the voice of the people is heard no more. The thistle shook there its lonely head; the moss whistled to the wind. The fox looked out of the windows, the rank grass of the wall waved round its head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina, silence is in the house.... Raise the, song of mourning, O bards! over the land of strangers. They have but fallen before us: for one day, we must fall."

Notes: This is a fascinating insight into life in Quebec amidst the Revolutionary War against the Americans when Britian was desperately fighting to maintain its hold in Canada and America. Charles does not mention his wife Jane in this letter but it is very possible she was lived with him at both the houses mentioned.

Later Charles Grey Stewart, as a young man, joined his father in Quebec and married Eleanor Morris MacLean in March 1801. Together they had 13 children, including Henrietta (1802-1875) and Jane (1807-1861). While we refer to ourselves as the Phllips family, we are in fact equally Stewart's with a good measure of MacLean blood too.

Charles Grey Stewart  became Comptroller of Customs for Quebec and appears to have lived in fine style in a grand house in the city of Quebec. His children married well and moved in the polite society of the day. The early years of the nineteenth century were gracious years for the upper and merchant class in the city. Many visitors were drawn to the elegance of the city, its glamour enhanced by the french customs and culture which was allowed to remain.

Charles Grey and Eleanor Morris MacLean Stewart's children.
  1. Henrietta Eleanor Stewart b. Feb 2 1802 Married William Phillips June 5 1821. d.
  2. JaneStewart b. Aug 2 1805 Married William Price of Wolfesfield July 16 1825 d.
  3. Isabella Allan Stewart b. ?- died 1877
  4. Anne Stewartb 1809-1830
  5. Charles Hamilton Stewart b 1803-1884
  6. Donald MacLean Stewart b 1813-1884
  7. Alexander George Gill Stewart b 1816-?
  8. James Stewart b 1818-?
  9. John David Stewart b 1820-?
  10. Robert Frederick Stewart b 1822 -
  11. Eleanor Jane Stewart b 1824-?
  12. Eliza Stewart b 1827 - 1828





The following documents have been compiled by a professional genealogist in Scotland for Martha Stewart Jordan.