Ian Pendlebury Macdonald (1892–1987)


Indian Army Reserve of Officers   28th Punjabis Regiment,

Photo Derbyshire Times

Ian P macdonald

Taken in Ceylon 1915

Ian was born at Crich in 1892, the son of village doctor George Macdonald. There were two doctors in partnership at this time – Doctors Macdonald and Rankin.

Rosskeen house, Crich

Doctors Macdonald and Rankin outside 'Roskeen', Surgery Lane, Crich

Notes: Simon Johnson
Ian Pendlebury Macdonald was the oldest of five children born to Dr George Godfrey Macdonald and Mary Howarth Pendlebury, with four younger sisters. His father was the village doctor at Crich, and the medical officer for the Crich district for many years, later being succeeded by his daughter, Dr Eileen Macdonald.
After public schooling at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, in 1910 he became a classics scholar at Exeter College, Oxford. At the outbreak of war, he attended a public schools' officers' training camp at Epsom Downs, and subsequently returned to Crich to raise the first unit of volunteers from the local parish, in October 1914. He was appointed to the Colonial Office and was posted as a civil servant to Ceylon in November 1914.
After several months in Ceylon, he applied for leave to join the local regiment. He was subsequently commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, attached to the 28th Punjabis regiment, on garrison duty in Ceylon. He was later appointed aide-de-camp to the commanding officer. He saw much active service with the 28th Punjabis in Mesopotamia. In January 1916, he was involved in the Battle of Sheikh Sa'ah, but had to pull out of the attack following a bout of sciatica which temporarily rendered one of his legs useless. He was invalided back to England from Basra. In May 1916, he was promoted to lieutenant.
In November 1916, he married Edith Maud Cooper at Crich. They would have three sons and two daughters. On account of ill health due to field service, in October 1917 he was retired from service and granted the honorary rank of lieutenant. After the war, he became assistant school master, firstly at Wellington College, Berkshire, and then at Oundle School, Northants.  Martin Pearce, a biographer of Maurice Oldfield - the former head of MI6, and an ex-student of Ian Macdonald during the 1920s - recalled that Ian had been a motor-racing champion: "Macdonald was an early version of John Surteeswith accomplishments on both two and four wheels, winning Gold Medals in the English and Scottish Six-day Autocycle Trials, and Silver in the Junior Car Club High Speed Trials."
In 1924, he took up the post of headmaster at Lady Manners School at Bakewell, where he remained until relocating to Italy to become director of the British Institute in Naples, in 1930. Ian and his second wife, Annie Hides, would have two sons and a daughter. The family relocated to Japan in 1935, when he worked at the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, Etajima. Returning to England, in 1940 he became headmaster of Lord Weymouth's Grammar School at Warminster, Wiltshire, in which post he remained until 1958. Former pupils recall him as being an iconic figure at the school.
Ian Pendlebury Macdonald later lived at Bath, and passed away in 1987, aged 95. He was survived by his third wife, Maxence Lewis. He was cremated.

Photos courtesy Jane and Robert Wheelwright

Ian P Macdonald in 1970s

Ian Macdonald, pictured in his study, circa 1970s

sculpture of Ian P Macdonald

A bust of Ian Macdonald, in the possession of his grandson
This was produced circa late 1950s by David Backhouse (1941– )
one of his pupils at Warminster, who became a noted sculptor

Photos courtesy Simon Johnson

Macdonald family grave at Crich

The Macdonald family grave in the churchyard of Crich Parish Church
Ian Macdonald was cremated at Haycombe Crematorium at Bath
His ashes were later interred in his parents' grave at Crich

memorial plaque to Ian P Macdonald

Ian P Macdonald's memorial plaque

Newspaper reports

Derbyshire Courier 5 June 1915
Mr Ian MacDonald, son of Dr and Mrs G G Macdonald, of Crich, who a few months ago went to Ceylon to take up a Civil Service appointment, is now a lieutenant in the 28 Punjabis, Indian Army. Lieutenant Macdonald, before joining this regiment, was attached to the Ceylon Planters’ Rifle Corps

Derbyshire Courier 6 November 1915
Lieutenant Macdonald’s Success
Photo of Ian P MacdonaldNot only to those intimately associated with Dr G G Macdonald C C, and Mrs MacDonald and family, of Crich, but to the whole of our readers in the Crich district the following news, taken from the “Ceylon Times,” will be of exceptional interest: we are authorised to state that Lieutenant Ian P McDonald, India Army Reserve of Officers, has been appointed A.D.C.to Brigadier General F.Hackett Thompson, C.B., general officer commanding troops. Lieut McDonald came out to Ceylon a few months ago as a cadet for the seal on Civil Service, and secured his commission recently being attached to the 28th Punjabis for duty. He will be congratulated on his new appointment.
This congratulation will be re-echoed generally amongst the people in the Crich district, who naturally are proud that a son of Crich has gained this distinction. Lieut McDonald it will be remembered, during the early days of the war discharge the duties of sectional commander with marked ability. Virtually all the recruits then under his control are now in the trenches in France and Belgium.

Derbyshire Times 29th of December 1923
Newspaper photo of Ian Penflebury macdonald… Mr Ian Macdonald, assistant Master at Oundle, Northants, was eventually appointed and will begin his duties at the next term in January. The new headmaster is a Derbyshire man, being the son of Alderman GG Macdonald, MD, JP, of Crich and was born there in 1892. Mr Macdonald was educated at Green Hall, Belper, and Marlborough College, from whence he proceeded to Exeter College, Oxford, where he had been elected to an open scholarship in history. He was captain of his college Rugby XV and president of the Junior Common Room. He graduated with 2nd class class honours in the School of Literae Humaniores in 1913, and in the School of Modern History in 1914, in which year he was appointed on the results of the Combined Civil Services Examination to the Ceylon Civil Service. In 1915, Mr Macdonald received a commission in the 28th Punjabis, Indian Army, held the post of ADC to the General Officer Commanding in Ceylon, and saw much active service with the regiment in Mesopotamia. He was invalid home and after a short spell of duty in the Food Production Department of the Board of Agriculture, he took an appointment on the staff of Wellington College. From here he went to Oundle College where he was closely associated with the educational experiments of the late Mr FW Sanderson. He was master in charge of the school football. Mr Macdonald has always been a keen Rugger player. He has been at Oundle for four years. The photograph we produce was taken in Ceylon in 1915. Mr Macdonald is married. His wife was a Derbyshire lady. They have three children. They will take up residence at the old Vicarage, Bakewell, early in the New Year.

St Mary's Church Marriage Register
7 November 1916: Ian Pendlebury Macdonald 24, Second Lieutenant Indian Army (father George Godfrey Macdonald, Doctor of Medicine) married Edith Maud Cooper 20, daughter of William Hill Cooper (deceased) gentleman. Dr Rankin was a witness.

Book extract
From Spymaster by Martin Pearce (Transworld Publishers) published August 2016 (the story of Maurice Oldfield former head of MI6)

'The headmaster at Lady Manners School in Maurice’s early days was a remarkable character and a major influence on changing the way his pupils approached their lives [...] So when Ian Pendlebury Macdonald swept into town in 1924 to take up the post of headmaster in his new silver Alvis two-seater sports car, with a colourful past in his wake, the impression he made on the wide-eyed children of the Bakewell area was both immediate and long-lasting […] He may have had the benefit of Ian Macdonald’s teaching for only four years, but its impact on the teenage Maurice Oldfield was to endure. Maurice’s sister Sadie, who joined her brother at Lady Manners School in Macdonald’s final year, remembered that Maurice would often come home relating tales of wartime derring-do that had been shared by the headmaster. ‘Mr Macdonald really inspired Maurice to read,’ Sadie recalled. ‘Before that he was mainly interested in Derbyshire books and Bible stories, but he became fascinated by travel writing, history and atlases once he got to Lady Manners.’'

Postcards of the first Crich Volunteers into the Sherwood Foresters October1914

Crich recruits in 1914

Ian P. Macdonald; William Burr; William Curzon; John Walker; Nelson Martin;
Jack Kneebone; William Frost; Walter (Wammy) Mellors; Jack Cauldwell;
Jack Porter; George Perry; Noble Tomlinson


Crich recruits 1914

Included with these recruits are: Ian Macdonald; Billy Curzon; Jack Porter; Walter (Wammy) Mellors; Jack Kneebone; Billy Burr; Noble Tomlinson;
Tom Coleman; Billy Frost; Luke Coleman; Jack Cauldwell; George Perry. It is believed that John Roe, brothers Herbert and Steven Bollington
(and possibly John Bollington) are also amongst this group.

Imperial War Museum Oral History
On the Imperial War Museums website is a fascinating oral history by Ian Pendlebury Macdonald.

Listen to the ORAL HISTORY on this site.

To listen on the Imperial War Museums site click the link.


1901: Green Lane Independant School, Belper

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Ian P Macdonald boarder 9 Pupil Crich

RG13 piece 3228 folio 75 page 1

1911: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
George Godfrey Macdonald Head 49 Doctor of Medicine Hanover Square
Ian P Macdonald son 19 Student Crich
Flora Macdonald daughter 11   Crich
Sheila Macdonald daughter 10   Crich
Henry Joseph Rankin boarder 48 Batchelor of Medicine Donegal

RG14PN19776 RG78PN1183 RD418 SD3 ED13 SN106

1939 Register: Flemish Houses, Lexden & Winstree
Ian P Macdonald b.6 January 1892; schoolmaster, Ministry of Civil Reserve
Annie Macdonald b.25 July 1897
Jane R Macdonald b.17 April 1932; school
Henry M J Macdonald b.19 April 1933; school