Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Ernest James MacDonald, p.2

On 26th August 1916 the following obituary appeared in the Hastings Observer:

Indian Mutiny Veteran Dies at Hastings

  Mr E J McDonald of 35 Devonshire Rd Hastings who was well known in local musical circles passed away on Tuesday at the age of 74 years.

  Mr McDonald was one of the few men left who risked their lives in the cause of the Empire during the time of the Indian Mutiny. He was the proud possessor of a medal and two bars awarded to him for his service in the campaign of 1857-8, under Sir Colin Campbell, in the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was also present at the Relief and Siege of Lucknow. He was only fifteen at the time and was probably one of the youngest of those present, but he took the same part as the others and witnessed some terrible scenes during the campaign.

  Mr McDonald was a member of a family which has long been associated with the army, and many of them have made names for themselves in the world of music. When Mr McDonald returned from his Mutiny campaign he studied music and became bandmaster of the Welsh Fusiliers in India. He was in the East eight years and it was after seventeen years active service  

that he left his Regiment on March 19th, 1874 after gaining the universal esteem of all those with whom he had been associated.

  Mr McDonald has had many important posts in the musical world and has won fame as a composer.  One of his pieces  ‘’Lucknow 1857’’ is no doubt familiar to many residents who had the pleasure of hearing the concerts given on the Hastings Pier under the direction of Mr McDonald. It is a delightful piece and tells the story of Lucknow in an admirable way.

  Mr McDonald was present at the dinner given to the veterans on the occasion of the Jubilee celebrated on December  23rd,  1907, an event which no doubt will be remembered by many people. General regret will be felt at the death of such a fine man whose face was so familiar and who had given so much delight with his music.

  The funeral, which will be a military one, is to take place at the Borough Cemetery at 4 o’clock today (Saturday).

Obviously he was well known in wider musical circles too.  On 19th October 1912 the Hastings Observer reported:

  In London Mr MacDonald conducted his descriptive fantasia and military scena ‘’Lucknow 1857’’ with a military band before a London audience at the Chelsea Palace on Sunday evening. The immense Hall was crowded to its full extent.  Mr L. De Coverley, who directed the concert for the National Sunday League*, in a short speech introduced Mr. MacDonald who at once stepped onto the stage to conduct his work.  He was well received.  At the conclusion another outburst of applause greeted Mr MacDonald.  Mr F. C. Wood the Bandmaster of the Scots Guards shook hands with Mr MacDonald and complemented him on his clever work and conducting.

*The National Sunday League was established in 1855 and was dedicated to the provision of cultural events on Sundays, such as the opening of Museums, Art Galleries and libraries on Sunday afternoons , providing musical concerts and generally promoting ‘ intellectual and elevating recreation on that day’.