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Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt, 1895-96

Square A10

Quilt square A10


J. A. D. D.


The person represented on this square is highly likely to be John Anstruther Davidson Donaldson (1864-1961), youngest child of John Donaldson (1827-1905) and his first wife Anstruther Davidson (1827-1864). We use the abbreviation JADD to refer to John Anstruther Davidson Donaldson in the following paragraphs.

Further information

John Donaldson married his cousin Anstruther Davidson in 1857 during a trip to Scotland. The newlyweds returned to John’s farm, Bellevue, Ivanhoe, and had three children: Margaret Alexander (1860-1940), James Younger (1862-1882) and John Anstruther Davidson (JADD) (1864-1961). Unfortunately Anstruther died just a week after JADD was born. The new baby was placed in the care of his aunt Isabella Donaldson (1815-1877) at Kangaroo Ground.

In 1868, John married Isabella Leslie Cantlay (1843-1931), and the couple went on to have a long marriage and a large family with 10 children surviving to adulthood. After his aunt died, JADD was sent to Wesley College as a boarder. On leaving school he worked for the building contractor Samuel Bennell [E2] of Fitzroy. Eight years later, in 1890, he married Samuel’s daughter, Mary Ann Bennell (1864-1934).

The couple lived in Clifton Hill initially where their two daughters, Muriel Rebecca (1891-1961) and Margaret Alexandra (1893-1990) were born. They then moved to Sandringham where their next three children, John Samuel (1896-1917), Mary Amy Isabella (1898-1996) and Victoria Dorothea (1901-1982) were born. It is highly likely that [B14] Muriel / Sandringham refers to their young daughter, Muriel Donaldson. Later, JADD and his family moved to Kew.

For further information on the Donaldsons family click here (opens a PDF).

There are two Donaldsons named as Busy Bees in the [Central] square. The ‘I Donaldson’ is most likely to be Isabella Leslie Donaldson, JADD’s stepmother, or Isabella Ann Donaldson (1869-1900), his half-sister. The ‘M Donaldson’ could be JADD’s sister, Margaret Alexander Donaldson.


  1. Woiwood, M (1994) Kangaroo Ground: The Highland Taken, Tarcoola Press, pp. 107-121.

  2. Ancestry.com ‘John Anstruther Davidson Donaldson’, Mathieson Family Tree, viewed 12 March 2020.

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