In July of 2014, I traveled to Balmoral Cemetery in Brisbane with Ian Donaldson to investigate some family history links to number of Donaldson graves that he had previously located. We knew that some of the individuals buried here were relatives, but were unsure about a number of them. Armed with a trusty notebook and my iPhone, we planned to track down individual plots using the Brisbane City Council’s grave search tool and document them on paper and in photographs. Unfortunately technical problems with the BCC site meant that we only got through half the graves on our list, but we discovered the graves of previously unknown family members leading to some new family history research. Once the weather is cooler we will return again to check on the graves and finish our Balmoral Cemetery family history survey.
The Balmoral Cemetery Graves
Below you will find each grave listed under a separate tab with images and descriptions. I have also included transcriptions of the plaques, notes about the individuals mentioned and personal profiles.
In loving memory of | Elizabeth Jack Donaldson | Died 13th Nov 1940 | Aged 74 years. | Also | Robert Donaldson, | Husband of the above | Died 3rd June 1942, aged 76 years. | At Rest
In | Loving memory of | Amy Mary | Wife of | John Clark Donaldson | Who died 5th Septr 1914 | Aged 52 years. | Also | John C. Donaldson | Died 19th Dec 1924 | Aged 72 years.
John Clark Donaldson was born in Wicklow in Ireland in 1853 and grew up in Wilton, Roxburghshire in the north of England. Several of John’s uncles emigrated to Australia in the 19th century, living in and around Melbourne, but his elder brother, William, also settled in Brisbane. His obituary in the Brisbane Courier, dated 26 Dec 1924 , records that John was brought out to Australia in 1880 by the Apollo Stearite Candle Co. Ltd. of Melbourne and was sent to Brisbane to manage their operations at Stanely Street. His career in Brisbane was very successful over some 41 years. John married Amy Mary Blackman, a Brisbane local in 1884 and they lived in a house called “Minto” on Apollo Road, Bulimba. Amy was the patron of the Bulimba Tennis Club and active in the Brisbane social scene .
Below this is situated a plaque with similar finishes set into the concrete plinth. It reads:
Also their daughter | Ina Jean | Died 28th Oct 1923 | Also their son | Archibald | Killed in action, France | 30th May 1918 | Aged 25 Years.
The bottom inscription predates that for John Clark and may have been added before it with the bottom register of the obelisk reserved for John. Ina was only 26 years old at her death and a boat owned by this branch of the family and remembered by Ian Donaldson was possibly named after her.
Archibald (full name Archibald Clark Donaldson) was a Lance Corporal in the 41st Infantry Battalion, AIF (Service No. 159). His entry on the AWM Roll of Honour notes that he died of wounds and is buried in the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Haute-Normandie, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also includes a detailed listing for Archibald who is interred in plot V. K. 6a. A marker on the grave placed by the Friends of Balmoral Cemetery notes this memorial and provides contact details for parties interested in the “Killed in Action Memorials Project” investigating the 55 soldiers KIA during the First World War and Commemorated in the cemetery.
On the left side of the memorial, on the second tier of the obelisk, is an inscription for John Frederick Donaldson, son of John and Amy.
Also their son | John F. Donaldson | Late 41st Batt A.I.F. | Died 7th Feb 1941 | Aged 44 Years.
John served as a Corporal in the 41st Infantry Battalion AIF with his brother and was gassed in May 1918 in France, probably in the same battle that his brother was shot and later died of wounds. Late in September 1918 he received a severe gun shot wound to his right thigh and was invalided to England for recovered, before being discharged due to his wound and returned to Australia in 1919.
Finally, on the right side of the memorial, matching the location of John Frederick’s inscription, is a memorial for Hilda May Donaldson. This inscription, finished like the others on the monument in white paint, is better preserved than that of John Frederick, probably because it is in the shade of the overhanging tree, while John Frederick’s receives full sun. Hilda never married
Also their daughter | Hilda M. Donaldson | Died 1st June 1982 | Aged 82 Years.
This important memorial records details of almost the entire family of John Clark and Amy Mary Donaldson, but not their married daughter’s Ellen, Amy and Alison. Further research is required on all members of this family and a brief search of articles in the Brisbane Courier, shows that the family is well represented here.
The inscription on quite a recent plaque reads:
In loving memory of | William Prentice Donaldson 1846-1921 | and his loving wife | Alice Louisa Donaldson 1867-1920 | also their beloved daughter | Alice Emily Donaldson 1901-1917 | At rest | 6-215/216
Alice and William also had a son, named William Prentice for his father, who served in the First and Second World Wars and lived in Chelmer. Some further research is required on this branch of the family as their story seems quite interesting.
These four graves at Balmoral Cemetery provide glimpses into the lives of several branches of the Donaldson family. Two of these are directly related to the ‘Oronsay’ Donaldsons and require significant further research. Already, time spent on the National Library of Australia’s Trove tool and the National Archives of Australia have provided original documents relating to individuals discussed here, as has the Queensland Birth Deaths and Marriages register. What is clear, is that the families of John and Amy, and William and Alice were a part of the vibrant social, religious and business life of Brisbane in the late 1800’s and into the next century, a city where relatives still live today.Share Post: