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Archibald John Macdonald, fourth child of Hugh Macdonald (1788-1857) and Catherine Kennedy Macdonald (ca. 1795-1872), was born 10 October 1834 in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island. He married Marion Murphy (21 March 1847 - 13 June 1921) on 1 July 1873 in Charlottetown. The couple had eight children: Temple William Faber (1875-1918), Archibald Glengyle (1876-1960), Hugh Allister (1878-1961), John Howard (1880-1933), George Seaforth (1881-1881), Mary Marion (1882-1975), Josephine Alice Catherine "Cassie" (1885-1971), and Helena Gladys (1889-1986).
Archibald J. studied at Central Academy in Charlottetown. In 1851 he joined his brothers Andrew Archibald and Augustine "Austin" Colin in the firm A. A. Macdonald & Bros. and for the next number of years was involved the family’s various business ventures, including general mercantile trade, shipping, shipbuilding, fishing and packaging.
Archibald J. had a long political career, being first elected to the House of Assembly for Georgetown Royalty as a Conservative in 1872. He would act as a representative for Kings County from that year until 1876, then again from 1879 to 1908. Archibald J. was a Member of the Executive Council from 1873 to 1876 and 1883 to 1891. Archibald J. held a number of other public offices over the years, including Comptroller of Navigation Laws, Sheriff of Kings Count, Consular Agent of the United States Controller of Customs, and Collector of Imports at Three Rivers. In 1909, at the age of seventy five, Archibald J. would pen his memoirs, reflecting on his early childhood at Panmure Island and Georgetown, biographical information about family members, family activities including farming and business ventures, his political life, and a memorable trip to Scotland. The memoirs were later transcribed and published by Helen Cecilia MacDonald and Ann Marie Tomlins under the title "More than a Lifetime of Memories: Diary of Archibald John Macdonald".
Archibald J. died 17 August 1917 in Georgetown.