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John Duncan Macrae Passes Away

Today in Masonic History John Duncan Macrae passes away in 1967.

John Duncan Macrae was a Scottish actor.

Macrae was born on August 20th, 1905 in Glasgow, Scotland. He attended Allan Glen's School. He later attended the Glasgow University in 1923 and 1924, he did not graduate from the university. He became an early member of the Citizens' Theatre, the principal producing theatre in the west of Scotland.

In 1949, Macrae began appearing in movies and later in early television programs. He first appeared in the film Whiskey Galore! It was based on the real life shipwreck of the S.S. Politician. In the film the shipwreck deposits a massive cargo of whiskey on a Scottish island and the locals proceed to take advantage of their windfall.

In 1953, Macrae starred in the film The Kidnappers in North America it was released as The Little Kidnappers. The film follows two young boys, the grandsons of Macrae's character 'Grandaddy, who are sent to Nova Scotia to live with their grandparents after their father is killed in the Boer War. Early in the film the boys ask to get a dog and 'Grandaddy' tells the boys "ye canna eat a dog". Later when the boys discover an abandoned baby they take it in without telling their grandparents. When the boys are discovered, one of the grandsons states "Don't eat the babbie". This gave the film one of the more memorable moments from the expression that appears on Macrae's face.

On television Macrae appeared in the show Para Handy - Master Mariner a television series based on a series of books and stories that appeared in the Glasgow Evening News. The stories followed Peter 'Para Handy' Macfarlane who is played by Macrae. Para Handay who is the captain of his ship, leads his crew on a variety of misadventures around the Scottish islands and Scottish coast.

In the 1950's and 1960's Macrae became a mainstay on television for Hogmanay celebrations. Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with New Years celebrations. It often is celebrated into January 1st and is closely associated with first foot, a tradition that the first person to set foot into the house is good luck. During the Hogmanay celebrations Macrae became famous for his song A Wee Cock Sparra:

The Wee Cock Sparra

A wee cock sparra sat on a tree,
A wee cock sparra sat on a tree,
A wee cock sparra sat on a tree,
Chirpin awa as blithe as could be.

Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra,
Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra,
Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra,
And he said: 'I'll get ye, ye wee cock sparra.'

The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
And he hit a man that was hurlin' a barra.

The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra,
The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra
The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra,
And said: 'Ye take me for a wee cock sparra?'

The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra,
The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra,
The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra
And the boy stood and glowered; he was hurt tae the marra.

And a' this time the wee cock sparra,
And a' this time the wee cock sparra,
And a' this time the wee cock sparra
Was chirpin awa on the shank o' the barra.

In the 1960's Macrae appeared in one of his final films Casino Royale a spoof of the James Bond movies. The movie would not be released until after Macrae passed away.

Macrae passed away on March 23rd 1967.

Macrae was a member of Lodge Maryhill No.510, Glasgow, Scotland.