Agnes Macdonald, 1st Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe

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The Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Canada
In role
1 July 1867 – 5 November 1873
Preceded byRole established
Succeeded byJane Mackenzie
In role
17 October 1878 – 6 June 1891
Preceded byJane Mackenzie
Succeeded byMary Abbott
Personal details
Susan Agnes Bernard

(1836-08-24)August 24, 1836
Spanish Town, Jamaica
DiedSeptember 5, 1920(1920-09-05) (aged 84)
Eastbourne, England
Resting placeOcklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne, England
(m. 1867⁠–⁠1891)
RelativesHewitt Bernard (brother)

Susan Agnes Macdonald, 1st Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe (née Bernard; 24 August 1836 – 5 September 1920) was the second wife of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada.

Early life[edit]

Agnes was born near Spanish Town, Jamaica, to The Hon. Thomas James Bernard (d. 1850), of Bellevue, south of Montego Bay; member of the Privy Council of Jamaica. Her mother, Theodora Foulks Hewitt (1802–1875), was the daughter of William Hewitt, also of Jamaica, descended from a brother of James Hewitt, 1st Viscount Lifford. She was raised both in Jamaica and in England.

Marriage and family[edit]

After her father's death she came to Canada with her mother to live with her brother, Hewitt Bernard, a lawyer and private secretary to political leader John A. Macdonald. It was through him that she met Macdonald for the first time in 1856. It was in 1866, in London, England, where Miss Bernard had been with her mother that she again met her husband-to-be who was there to prepare the British North America Act. They married on 16 February 1867, and had one daughter, Margaret Mary Theodora Macdonald (1869–1933), who was born severely handicapped, both mentally and physically.

Wife of the prime minister[edit]

On the first prime ministerial trip to British Columbia on the newly opened Canadian Pacific Railway, Macdonald built Agnes a platform on the cowcatcher of the locomotive and had a chair nailed to it so she could better see the mountain scenery. During her life in Canada with her husband, she became intimately acquainted with many of the intricacies of the political and historical events of the country.

Lady Macdonald Drive in Canmore, Alberta is named after her.

Later life[edit]

After her husband's death in 1891 she was raised to the peerage in his honour as Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, in the Province of Ontario and Dominion of Canada.[1][2] By 1896 she left her home at Earnscliffe to go back to England. She actively participated in social and philanthropic work late into life.[2] She died in England in September 1920, aged 84, and was buried in the Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne, a town on the south coast of England. The barony became extinct on her death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 26192". The London Gazette. 14 August 1891. p. 4378.
  2. ^ a b Baroness Macdonald's Death, The Globe. A1. 8 September 1920.

External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe