Symers douglas macdonald macvicar (1857-1932)

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Symers Macvicar was educated at a private school at Moffat, and one wonders whether the MacVicars knew John Duncan (father of the bryologist John Bishop Duncan, 1869-1953), who was schoolmaster at Moffat from about 1871. Even if so, Symers must have left Moffat to attend school in Bedford while J.B. Duncan was still very young.
Afterwards Macvicar studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and qualified as a physician and surgeon in 1882. He practised as doctor on various ships, and travelled widely in course of his duties. His home address remained Moffat until 1886, according to the Medical Register.
In November 1887 he married his cousin’s widow, Ada Julia Robertson-Macdonald (née Littledale, 1844-1920). Ada’s first husband, William David Alexander Robertson-Macdonald (1833-1883), was a merchant of Liverpool, while Ada was the daughter of Thomas Littledale (1818-1861) and Julia (née Royds, 1820-1904) of Liverpool. The Littledales were [merchants and brokers] and descended from the Littledales of Whitehaven (and before that from Routon, Ennerdale) in Cumbria, of whom Mary Littledale married the ironmaster Isaac Wilkinson. The Royds of Rochdale were judges and Members of Parliament. Both the Littledales and Royds had also married into the Molyneux family of Liverpool, some of whom were merchants. Thomas Molyneux (1753-1835) was a mayor of Liverpool in 1806/7.
After their honeymoon, Symers and Ada settled to live on the family estate at Kinlochmoidart. After the uprising of 1745, the Macdonalds forfeited the estate of Kinlochmoidart, but it was restored to them in 1784, and it remained in the family until 1883, when William Frederick Robertson-Macdonald IX (Ada Julia’s father-in-law) contracted to sell it shortly before his death on February 22nd of that year. His son (Ada’s first husband) survived his father by only a few weeks, dying on April 10th 1883. The three islands of Shona Bheag, Deer Island and Green Island were not sold, and remained Macdonald property.
Ada had a house, Invermoidart, built on Shona Bheag, where she and Symers went to live after their marriage in 1887, a secluded seat which Symers, who had retired from his medical career, found ideal for his new career in hepaticology. In 1911 Symers and Ada had three servants – a cook, table maid and dairy maid – to attend to their needs. Ada died in 1920, after which Symers’s youngest sister Katharine moved from Edinburgh to live there. Symers died in 1932, and was buried in the Macdonald’s family grave on Eilean Finnean, the beautiful Green Isle in Loch Shiel. Katharine lived on at Invermoidart for a further seven years, and the last of her generation of Macvicars passed from this life on the eve of the Second World War.

I thank Estela Dukan of the Library of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh, and Steven Kerr, Assistant Librarian at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh for information supplied.

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