Alexander MacDonald of Surinam

1800 - 1870


Resident slave-owner in Surinam. Shown by David Alston as the son of Miss Gordon (sister of Gilbert Gordon of Berbice, then Ross-shire and finally Canada) and John MacDonald (d. 1840). After John MacDonald's death, his widow apparently emigrated to Canada, given that she reportedly died at Pickering Canada in 1850. Alexander MacDonald went to Surinam in 1820, and was later followed by his brother Gordon MacDonald (q.v.) Alexander died there in 1870 while Gordon died in Scotland in 1859, having purchased the Moy estate (and the enslaved people attached to it) in Surinam from the heirs of Alexander Ferrier of Surinam (q.v.) in 1853.

  1. In 1863, Alexander MacDonald was awarded 39,300 guilders as the sole owner for 131 enslaved people (of 133 registered) on Plantation Bellevue, in the district of Coronie in Surinam, 29,400 guilders for 98 enslaved people (of 99 registered) on Plantage John also in Coronie, on which Alexander MacDonald jun. was shown as overseer.

  2. Born 12 September 1800 probably in Dalwillan, Caithness, fifth child of John MacDonald (1752-1840) and Barbara Gordon. Arrived in Surinam 25/11/1820 when he declared as his last residence Fort William in Scotland. Overseer on plantation Leasowes in the Upper Nickerie District (now Coronie), and moved to Lower Nickerie (now Nickerie) c. 1826. In 1845 he purchased four cotton plantations: Bellevue; Cardross Park; John and Bantaskine (or Bantaskin) in Coronie from the estate of A. MacIntosh for 36,000 guilders. In 1828 Alexander MacDonald had a child, Samuel, with an enslaved African woman named Sophia: he subsequently freed them both under the names Sophia van Bunschoten and Samuel van Bunschoten, and went on to have six further children with Sophia. In 1847 the children were allowed to carry the name MacDonald instead of van Bunschoten with the consent of their mother, who died 04/03/1853 in Nieuw Rotterdam. Alexander MacDonald probably never returned to Scotland, and died 14/11/1870 on Bellevue.


David Alston, Slaves & Highlanders 'Gilbert Gordon', [accessed 24/05/2016]; John O'Groat Journal Friday 23/08/1850.

  1. Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Algemene Rekenkamer CB (Comptabel Beheer), nummer toegang, plantation Bellevue inventarisnummer 223 Claim no. 14; plantation John inventarisnummer 225 Claim no. 108 and privately-owned inventarisnummer 231 Claim no. 189.

  2. Fully-sourced private communication from Gonda Nekrui-MacDonald dated 30/05/2016, drawing on research by Dr Alphonse L. MacDonald, who kindly reviewed and amended the draft entry.

We are grateful to Okke ten Hove, Gonda Nekrui-MacDonald and Dr Alphonse L. MacDonald for their respective help with this entry.

Further Information

Samuel, six others

Relationships (1)