Rear Admiral Donald Campbell 1752-1819 was a contemporary of Nelson's & also served with the Portuguese Navy. I can trace his career, and death, and there is a memorial to him in the Garrison Church in Portsmouth. He married Margaretha Hendrina van Renen. I can find out about his children but I can't find his parents. Donald Campbell is a pretty common Scottish name. There was in fact another Rear Admiral Donald Campbell around at about the same time but 50 years younger so I have had to be careful when tracing facts. I think "my" Donald Campbell may have been born on the Island of Islay but that's all I know. Help please!
The recent book "Tracing Your Naval Ancestors", by Simon Fowler (Pen & Sword, 2011) lists on p46-48 various biographical texts about RN officers, many of which are on-line at www.archive.org and Ancestry. It may be that some of these could provide a clue. Ancestry, e.g. has a database "Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815" imaged from the book "The Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815" Vol. I-II. 1954[?]. However, this seems to give no more than the basic dates in his ranks (Commander 5 June 1793, Captain 26 Oct 1795, Rear Admiral 4 June 1814 - no date for Lieutenant).
Potentially more useful is a CD from 2003 "The Complete Navy List of the Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815" by Patrick Marione. The description suggest this contains biographical data. There is an index to this online at http://www.ageofnelson.org/NavyList/results.php?name=campbell
Both Donalds are in the index - ominously there is no birth date for yours. The book says that the Society of Genealogists has a copy and other large reference libraries may also have it.
On a different tactic, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/SCT-ISLAY/2009-09/1252735710 shows that someone believes his father was "father: Donald Campbell listed as Major Donald Campbell on his Islay headstone" - I think that's the father was a major. And one possibility would then be to see if ScotlandsPeople has a will for the elder Donald. All getting very speculative but there is a testament for a Donald Campbell, "Colonel of Glensaddel" dated 22/6/1801 and another for a Donald Campbell, "of Glensaddel" (maybe the same person?) dated 1/11/1800. (dd/mm/yyyy format dates)
Unfortunately, the earlier one is a Testament Dative - ScotlandsPeople states
The 2nd document is an Eik, which SP describes as "An addition or supplement to a deed".
So at risk of upsetting my ancestor's countrymen by using English terms, the 1st is an admon with inventory, not a will per se, the 2nd an amendment to the 1st. Whether any of these will mention the Admiral is totally unknown. Depends how desperate you're getting!
The Campbell clan is one of the more active in genealogy and some clan members take pride in figuring out who the famous Campbell were and how they tied in to the clan. You might try the genealogist at Clan Campbell of North America.
My surname is van Reenen and this extract is from our family tree:
Margaretha Hendrina VAN RENEN. Dau. of Daniel VAN RENEN Burgher of Cape Town & Catharina Christina BECK. b. 3 Apr 1767. d. 16 Jan 1832 in Portsmouth. She m. Rear Admiral. Donald CAMPBELL, 18 Sep 1785 in Cape Town. b. 12 Feb 1752. d. 11 Nov 1819 in the Leeward Island, West Indies. Children: i. George Henry CAMPBELL; b. 8 May 1788. d. 1811. ii. Edward Hughes CAMPBELL; b. 30 Sep 1796. d. Nov 1797. iii. Henry Dundas CAMPBELL iv. Harriet Catherine CAMPBELL v. Jane Wilhelmina CAMPBELL
Unfortunately nothing further on the Campbells.
Regards Iloma Marais (born van Reenen) http://www.myheritage.com/site-130506001/van-reenen-family#newsfeedLocation
It appears that Margaret Harriot Van Reenen was born in South Africa and has connections to nobility through her father Daniel Van Reenen (c. 13 May 1730, d. 22 May 1771).
They have entries in the Community Tree British Isles. Peerage, Baronetage, and Landed Gentry families with extended lineage maintained by Family Search.
However, FS seem to know as little about Donald as you do!
I am intrigued by the Portugese connection. When did he serve in that navy? Before or after reaching Flag rank in the RN? Is it possible that he achieved "distinction" in Portugal because of his marriage?
If you are a fan of the Hornblower stories (C. S. Forester) you might consider the possibility that in the 1780s Donald was a disaffected Captain on half-pay stuck in a far-flung outpost of Empire and hawking his services to whoever would pay.
Donald’s son, Henry Dundas, in a document of 1847, recorded that his father was ‘of Letham House, East Lothian’. This is near the town of Haddington, Scotland. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine of 1817 records the marriage of Jane Wilhelmina ‘youngest daughter of Admiral Campbell of Letham, Haddington.’
Donald’s eldest son, George Henry, was born on the Smeaton Estate near Haddington, East Lothian in May 1788. George Buchan-Hepburn, laird of Smeaton, was a witness. George’s father was John Buchan of Letham. George was appointed judge of the High Court of the Admiralty in 1790 and given a baronet in 1815. Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville was a close friend.
Can anyone find the link between Donald Campbell, Letham and George Buchan that may help to solve the mystery of Donald's parentage?