A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Ms. Jane Ruck of Berlin, Oregon. She had purchased a small book of less than one hundred pages, entitled Sir John Young Walker MacAlister, A Memorial for His Family and Friends, published in 1926. After a few more exchanges, I purchased the book so that I could find out more about this distinguished member of the Tarbert line of the Scottish MacAlister families. The book is a collection of obituary notices, memorials and extracts from letters written about Sir John. It also contains five photographs which were made in 1923, one of which accompanies this article. It commemorates the life and work of a good man. He is listed in the Clan McAlister of America MAC1 date base.
When I first established the MAC1 family file of the Scottish descendants of Alasdair Mor, one of my principal goals was to link them to our American family lines in the Clan McAlister data base. It still is. This effort has been successful to a degree, but much more research must be accomplished before we can with certainty be sure of more than the dozen identified CMA families which are linked to their Scottish ancestral lines at present writing. Another goal was to construct the genealogy of the McAllister families of Loup, Tarbert and Glenbarr, tracing their lineage from Alasdair Mor to the present day. The sources used for the construction of the MAC1 computer file were the research done from 1982 to 2000 by Capt. Ian MacDonald of Clachan, A.Y. Slater in1821, W.H. Wilkin, and others. Further research will be done after the Scottish Research Project document files become computer searchable.
Four major Scottish families have been identified as descendants of Alasdair Mor, the progenitor of the McAllister line: Loup, Tarbert, Glenbarr and the Alexanders of Menstrie. Sir John Young Walker MacAlister belonged to the Tarbert line, whose founder was Donald MacAlister, First Laird of Tarbert and Constable of Tarbert Castle, and second son of Angus John of the Loup. Sir John's specific designator is MAC1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1- 2-1-1-2-3. His parents were Donald and Euphemia (Kennedy of Islay) MacAlister. His brother was Sir Donald MacAlister, the Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.
The London Times issue of December 3, 1925 reported,
"Sir John was born at Perth on May 10, 1856. His father was the representative of the ancient family who were keepers of Tarbert Castle, Kintyre. He studied medicine for three years at the University of Edinburgh. The ill-health which dogged him through life the compelled him to choose the less exacting work of a librarian. He married Elizabeth, second daughter of George Batley, of Blackhall, and had two sons, Donald and Ian. Most of his life was bound up with the fortunes of the Royal Society of Medicine. During the First World War, he was Founder and Secretary of the War Office Surgical Advisory Committee, and organized an Emergency Surgical Aid Corps for the Admiralty, War Office and Police, which was designed to afford immediate and skilled professional attendance at emergencies arising out of air raids. He was knighted in 1920, and died on December 1, 1925.
"A handsome man, with a beard and clean cut features, MacAlister showed many signs of his ancient lineage. He is best remembered at many social functions in a brown velvet jacket, eternally smoking, always with a new story or jest told in a pleasant quiet voice. During working hours he was always busy, and yet with time to answer the many inquiries with which he was harassed. His temper was imperturbable, and as a witness under examination he was at his best, for his apparent want of guile concealed a deadly power of effective repartee which speedily routed his questioner."
Sir John Young Walker MacAlister was buried in the MacAlister vault in Tarbert, Argyll, where many of his Tarbert ancestors are buried.