MacDonald sisters

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Georgiana Burne-Jones, née Macdonald c.1882, photographed by Frederick Hollyer

The Macdonald sisters were four Scottish sisters of the Victorian era, notable for their marriages to well-known men. Alice, Georgiana, Agnes and Louisa were the daughters of Reverend George Browne Macdonald (1805–1868), a Wesleyan Methodist minister,[1] and Hannah Jones (1809–1875).


There were 11 children in the Macdonald family: seven daughters and four sons. Mary (1834–1836) was the firstborn; followed by Henry (1836–1891), called Harry, who introduced his younger sisters Georgiana and Agnes to his artistic friends, known as the Birmingham Set; then Alice; Caroline (1838–1854); Georgiana; Frederic William (1842–1928); Agnes; Louisa; Walter (1847-1847); Edith (1848–1937), who never married, and lived at home until her mother's death; and Herbert (1850–1851).[2]


Alice Kipling

Alice (1837–1910) was born on 4 April in Sheffield.[3] She married John Lockwood Kipling who she met at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire. The celebration was possible in March 1865 after he was made Architectural Sculptor and Professor of Modelling at the School of Art and Industry in Bombay in the preceding January. Alice became the mother of Rudyard Kipling on 31 December 1865.[4] Lord Dufferin once said, "Dullness and Mrs Kipling cannot exist in the same room."[5][6][7]


Georgiana Burne-Jones, around 1870, by her brother-in-law Edward Poynter

Georgiana's (1840–1920) father was moved by the Methodist Conference to a Birmingham Circuit and it was here that Georgie was born on 28 July 1840.[8] Agnes (1843–1906) and her sister Georgina received attention from prospective suitors who were in the Birmingham Set. She married the pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones in 1859. They had three children, Philip, Christopher and Margaret - although Christopher died in infancy.[4] She became in time the mother-in-law of John William Mackail and grandmother of Angela Thirkell and Denis Mackail.


Agnes by her husband

She and her sister Agnes received attention from prospective suitors who were friends of her brother and members of the Birmingham Set.[4] She eventually married the future president of the Royal Academy Edward Poynter. Her husband later painted two of her sisters. She, Jane Morris and her sisters Louisa and Georgiana are thought to be the inspiration for figures in Burne-Jones 1864 painting Green Summer.[9]


Louisa Baldwin 1868, by her brother in law Edward Poynter

Louisa (1845–1925) married the industrialist Alfred Baldwin and was the mother of prime minister Stanley Baldwin, and grandmother to Oliver and Arthur Baldwin. Louisa wrote novels, short stories, and poetry, sometimes credited as "Mrs Alfred Baldwin."[10][11][12]

Further reading[edit]

  • Judith Flanders. A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne Jones, Agnes Poynter, and Louisa Baldwin. ISBN 0-393-05210-9
  • Ina Taylor. Victorian Sisters. (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987) (Shortly to be republished by Ellingham Press)


  1. ^ Ina Taylor. Victorian Sisters. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London p6 1987 ISBN 029779065X
  2. ^ "Person Page 2925". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Ina Victorian sisters 1987 Weidenfeld & Nicholson p13 ISBN 029779065X
  4. ^ a b c Jill Berkiminez (15 October 2013). Dictionary of Artists' Models. Routledge. pp. 91–. ISBN 978-1-135-95914-2. 
  5. ^ "The Life of Rudyard Kipling", Charles Carrington, 1955, p. 51.
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling - David Gilmour - Βιβλία Google. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  8. ^ Taylor, Ina Victorian sisters 1987 Weidenfeld & Nicholson p14 ISBN 029779065X
  9. ^ Living in Wolverhampton, 1862-1867, Historywebsite, Retrieved 7 July 2016
  10. ^ "Baldwin, Louisa". Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  11. ^ Louisa Baldwin at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  12. ^ Mrs. Alfred Baldwin at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database

External links[edit]