At the risk of further muddying the waters, “The Life and Services of Horatio, Viscount Nelson” by James Stanier and John M’Arthur gives the following details of the life of Donald Campbell:
Born 1764, the eldest son of Major Donald Campbell of Islay. Procured commission as Ensign
in 74th Regiment of Highlanders at the age of 13 (!) and served as ensign and then lieutenant in the Revolutionary War for six years. At the end of the war he left the army and became a sailor, first on a merchantman in the West Indies and later as a mate with the East India Company.
In 1793 he was appointed a lieutenant in the Portuguese Royal Navy and rose rapidly through the ranks, serving in the Mediterranean and for two years in Brazil. Following his service here he suggested reforms to the Portuguese government which were much appreciated and also corresponded frequently with the British government concerning the political situation in Portugal. For this and other (secret) services a pension was settled on his wife. He was appointed rear-admiral of the Portuguese navy in 1805 and sent to the Mediterranean with instructions to cooperate with the British fleet. Bonaparte, through his ambassador, objected and Campbell was recalled. He died in Lisbon in March 1806 at the age of 42, “much lamented as a good man and an excellent officer”.
He left 2 children, one of whom, Anna Maria Campbell, married my second great grand uncle. Her daughter, Georgiana Miller wrote:
“My gt grandfather, Major Campbell fought at Culloden, India, and in the Low Countries Wars. My grandfather was in the Portuguese Navy and died at 42, Admiral of the Home Fleet. Highland gentry were long poor and entered foreign service. His widow and two daughters lived in Portugal or they would not have got the pension due to them. My mother being ill was ordered home for a change and she then married Mr. Miller of Monk Castle.”
The above account from Stanier and M’Arthur is consistent with the many references to Campbell found on the internet. As far as hard data is concerned, Ensign Donald Campbell is listed in the army list of the 74th Regiment of (Highland) Foot, America, enlisting in December 1777. His correspondence with the British cabinet is listed in the Chatham papers in the National Archives. Commodore Campbell is described in Thomas Lindley’s “Voyage to Brazil” published in 1808.
Campbell delivered his reports to the British government in 1803 and 1804, prior to returning to Lisbon. There is a record of the christening of Anna Maria Campbell born 22 September 1804 in London, parents Donald Campbell and Eliza Maria. The same parents are listed on Anna Maria’s death certificate in 1888 (Scotland’s People). Finally, in Burke’s Landed Gentry he appears as Anna Maria’s father “the late Admiral Campbell, Portuguese Navy, and Commander-in-chief of the home fleet in the Tagus”.
It appears that there are (at least) 3 Admirals Donald Campbell:
- Donald (Portuguese navy, described above) b.1764, probably Islay - d.1806 Lisbon.
- Donald (British navy) b. 1752 - d. 1819 aboard his ship the “Salisbury”, married Margarethe van Renen.
- Donald (British navy) b. 1788 - d. 1856, married Ann Irvin, then Isabella Campbell.
For information on the parents of Campbell #2, see:
Campbell, Duncan, ”The clan Campbell : from the Campbell collections”. Edinburgh: O. Schulze & Co., 1988. (available on ancestry.com)
These records contain a letter to the editor of “The Oban Times” (dated July 1916) showing that even a hundred years ago there was confusion over the Admirals Campbell. In clarification, the author states that the Donald Campbell born on Islay in 1752 was one of 5 children of Archibald Campbell and Catherine McLean. Catherine was the only daughter of Neil McLean and Elizabeth MacNab. This is followed by a summary of his subsequent naval career and a note from the editor providing extensive additional information on this, as well as a date for the parents marriage (6 November 1742).
Although no references are provided for the parentage, this should provide a good starting point for further searches.