Donald Trump’s Mother: the story of Mary Anne MacLeod Trump as BBC documentary uncovers the US President’s Scottish roots

Donald Trumps mother, Mary, and a younger Donald Trump. (Picture: Getty Images)
Donald Trumps mother, Mary, and a younger Donald Trump. (Picture: Getty Images)
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A documentary following the rags-to-riches story of Donald Trump’s Scottish mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, airs on BBC Alba tonight (Tuesday 17 September).

It documents how Mary, born into a poverty-stricken family on the Isle of Lewis, emigrated to New York City and married into one of the wealthiest property development families in the state.

U.S. President Donald Trump plays a round of golf at Turnberry on his first official visit to the UK in 2018. (Picture: Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump plays a round of golf at Turnberry on his first official visit to the UK in 2018. (Picture: Getty Images)

But who was Mary Anne MacLeod Trump and what influence did she have on her son, Donald?

Here’s everything you need to know about the woman behind the most powerful man in the world.

Where was Mary Anne MacLeod born?

Born in 1912 in Pebbledash Croft House on the Isle of Lewis as the youngest of 10 children, Mary Anne MacLeod came from humble beginnings.

English was her second language and she learned this at school, having been raised in a Gaelic-speaking household.

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Mary was the daughter of crofter and fisherman, Malcolm (1866-1954), and Mary MacLeod (1867-1963). The name of her future-president son Donald, may have come from her maternal grandfather, Donald Smith.

When did she move to the United States?

It was common for young Scots to leave for the United States or Canada during the early 1900s, having suffered badly the consequences of the Highland Clearances and World War 1.

Mary already had a few sisters who had settled in the United States, and it’s believed that she first visited America for a short stay in December 1929.

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She then decided to move there permanently and departed Glasgow on board the RMS Transylvania on 2 May 1930, arriving in New York City nine days later on 11 May - the day after she turned 18.

Having escaped the poverty of Scotland, she started her life in America with just $50 to her name (around $750 today).

She moved in with her sister on Long Island and worked as a domestic servant for around four years, including working as a nanny for a well-off family in the suburbs of New York.

She returned briefly to Scotland in 1934 but was back living in the US the following year and became a naturalised citizen in March 1942.

MacLeod continued visiting her native land throughout her life and spoke Gaelic when she did.

Who did Mary Anne MacLeod marry?

Mary met American real-estate developer Fred Trump at a party in the 1930s and married him in January 1936 at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, before a reception in Manhattan.

On 5 April 1937, she gave birth to her first child, Maryanne Trump Barry, who became an American attorney and later a United States Circuit Judge.

Frederick Christ Trump Jr was born in 1938, and died in 1981 of alcohol-related causes.

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Elizabeth Trump Grau was born next in 1942, followed by Donald Trump in 1946, and Robert Trump in 1948.

The family lived in Jamaica, Queens and later in Jamaica Estates.

By 1940, the now upwardly-mobile family had taken on their own Scottish domestic worker, and Mary started driving a Rolls-Royce, with the vanity plates ‘MMT’.

And although she continued her duties as a housewife, she sometimes helped with her husband’s real estate business by collecting coins from laundry machines in family-owned apartment buildings.

She also volunteered in a hospital and was involved in school activities and charities, with cerebral palsy, disabled adults, the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and the Lighthouse for the Blind, some of the causes close to her heart.

Mary also played a role at the Women’s Auxiliary of Jamaica Hospital and the Jamaica Day Nursery, to which she and her husband donated their services and several buildings around New York.

In fact, a nursing home pavilion at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, which Mary volunteered at, is named after her.

What influence did she have on Donald Trump?

While Mary Anne MacLeod’s humble nature and humanitarian interests seem at odds with her bolshy son, Trump has claimed that one thing his mother did pass on to him was her eccentric hairstyle.

It was reported in The New Yorker in 2016 that Trump wrote, “Looking back, I realize now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother.”

How and when did Mary Anne MacLeod die?

Mary Anne MacLeod suffered from severe osteoporosis as she got older and was badly injured in a mugging incident in 1991, during which she broke ribs and had a brain haemorrhage, causing permanent damage to her sight and hearing.

Her husband Fred died aged 93 in June 1999 and Mary passed away the following year on 7 August 2000 aged 88 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.

She was buried alongside her husband Fred and son Frederick Jr.

The death notice in the Stornoway Gazette, read: "Peacefully in New York on August 7, Mary Ann [sic] Trump, aged 88 years. Daughter of the late Malcolm and Mary MacLeod, 5 Tong. Much missed.”

Mathair a’ Chinn Suidhe - Trump’s Mother airs on BBC Alba tonight (Tuesday 17 September) at 9pm.