Ranald was taken captive and moved from one jurisdiction to another, but was well treated. He was friendly and intensely curious about everything he saw and everyone he met. The Japanese responded to his courtesy, and Ranald soon was teaching English to a significant group of Japanese officials. His adventure ended when an American vessel, the Preble, arrived to retrieve a group of sailors that had been genuinely shipwrecked, and his captors allowed Ranald to accompany them back to America.
He continued his life as a sailor for some time, traveling widely. When gold was discovered in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, he worked there for several years. He died in North Central Washington in 1894.
When Japan finally opened to the West, Ranald’s student, Einosuke Moriyama, served as one of the chief interpreters between Commodore Perry and the Tokogawa Shogunate.
The State Library has two items in its online collection that tell Ranald’s story:
1. Ranald’s deposition given to Captain Glynn of the Preble on the voyage back to America in 1849.
Deposition of Ranald McDonald regarding his imprisonment in Japan, made to Captain James Glynn, USS Preble] [Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1850]From: Senate Executive Document (United State. Congress. Senate); 31st Congress, 1st Session, vol. 10, no. 84, p. 24-28.
2. Ranald’s own account written years after the fact and edited for the Eastern Washington Historical Society.
Ranald MacDonald : the narrative of his early life on the Columbia under the Hudson’s Bay Company’s regime, of his experiences in the Pacific whale fishery and of his great adventure to Japan : with a sketch of his later life on the western frontier, 1824-1894 by Ranald MacDonald. Spokane, Wash. : Published for the Eastern Washington State Historical Society of the Inland-American Printing Co., 1923
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