(born Jan. 31, 1761, Ulva, Argyllshire, Scot.—died July 1, 1824, London, Eng.) British soldier and colonial governor. He served with the British army in North America, Europe, the West Indies, and India; in 1809 he was appointed governor of New South Wales, Australia, where he replaced the corrupt military corps that had overthrown the previous governor, William Bligh. He began a program of public works construction and town planning that gave opportunities to Emancipists (freed convicts), established the colony's currency, and encouraged exploration and settlement. His policy favouring Emancipist agriculture angered the large landowners and sheep farmers (Exclusionists), and he was recalled in 1821.
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Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB (31 January 1762 – 1 July 1824; Scottish Gaelic spelling: Lachlan MacGuaire), British military officer and colonial administrator, served as Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821 and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of that colony. Historians assess his influence on the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement as being crucial to the shaping of Australian society.
Lachlan Macquarie was born on the island of Ulva off the coast of the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, a chain of islands off the West Coast of Scotland. He left the island at the age of 14. He was educated at the Royal High School of Edinburgh.
Macquarie joined the 84th Regiment of Foot in 1776 and served in North America, India and Egypt. Macquarie became a Freemason in January 1793 at Bombay, India, in Lodge No. 1 (No. 139 on the register of the English "Moderns" Grand Lodge) . He was promoted captain in 1789, major in 1801, and lieutenant-colonel, commanding the 73rd Regiment of Foot, in 1805.
In November 1807, Macquarie's cousin Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell became his second wife. In April 1809 Macquarie was appointed Governor of New South Wales. He was given a mandate to restore government and discipline in the colony following the Rum Rebellion against Governor William Bligh. The British government decided to reverse its practice of appointing naval officers as Governor and chose an army commander in the hope that he could secure the co-operation of the unruly New South Wales Corps. He was promoted colonel in 1810, brigadier in 1811 and major-general in 1813, while serving as governor. Macquarie is also a very great, skilled builder whose constructions still famously stand today.
Macquarie was a conservative disciplinarian who believed, in the words of the historian Manning Clark, "that the Protestant religion and British institutions were indispensable both for liberty and for a high material civilisation." When he arrived in Sydney in December 1809. Macquarie ruled the colony as an enlightened despot, breaking the power of the Army officers such as John Macarthur, who had been the colony's de facto ruler since Bligh's overthrow.
In 1812, the first detailed inquiry into the convict system in Australia by a Select Committee on Transportation, supported in general Macquarie's liberal policies. However, the committee thought that fewer tickets-of-leave should be issued and opposed the governor having the power to grant pardons. The committee concluded that the colony should be made as prosperous as possible so as to provide work for the convicts and to encourage them to become settlers after being given their freedom.
On a visit of inspection to the settlement of Hobart Town on the Derwent River in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), Macquarie was appalled at the ramshackle arrangement of the town and ordered the government surveyor James Meehan to survey a regular street layout. This survey determined the form of the current centre of the city of Hobart.
The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 brought a renewed flood of both convicts and settlers to New South Wales, as the sealanes became free and as the rate of unemployment and crime in Britain rose (as they always did when armies and navies were demobilised). Macquarie presided over a rapid increase in population and in economic activity - by the time of his departure the population had reached 35,000. The colony began to have a life beyond its functions as a penal settlement, and an increasing proportion of the population earned their own living. All this, in Macquarie's eyes, made a new social policy necessary.
Central to Macquarie's policy was his treatment of the emancipists: convicts whose sentences had expired or who had been given conditional or absolute pardons. By 1810 these outnumbered the free settlers, and Macquarie insisted that they be treated as social equals. He set the tone himself by appointing emancipists to government positions: Francis Greenway as colonial architect and Dr William Redfern as colonial surgeon. He scandalised settler opinion by appointing an emancipist, Andrew Thompson, as a magistrate, and by inviting emancipists to tea at Government House. In exchange, Macquarie demanded that the ex-convicts live reformed lives, and in particular insisted on proper marriages.
Macquarie was the greatest sponsor of exploration the colony had yet seen. In 1813 he sent Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson across the Blue Mountains, where they found the great plains of the interior. There he ordered the establishment of Bathurst, Australia's first inland city. He appointed John Oxley as surveyor-general and sent him on expeditions up the coast of New South Wales and inland to find new rivers and new lands for settlement. Oxley discovered the rich Northern Rivers and New England regions of New South Wales, and in what is now Queensland he explored the present site of Brisbane.
Macquarie established the colony's most prestigious buildings on Macquarie Street, which remains the city's preeminent address. Explorers soon noticed that the Governor liked things named after him: so Australia has the Macquarie River and Mount Macquarie, Lake Macquarie and Port Macquarie, Macquarie Harbour and Macquarie Island. Elizabeth Bay, Elizabeth Street and Mrs Macquarie's Chair (a carved chair on the eponymous point in Sydney Harbour) are named for his wife. Macquarie's own contribution to Australian nomenclature was the name "Australia," suggested by Matthew Flinders but first used in an official despatch by Macquarie in 1817.
Macquarie's policies, especially his championing of the emancipists and the lavish expenditure of government money on public works, aroused opposition both in the colony and in London, where the government still saw New South Wales as a place to dump convicts and not as a future dominion of the Empire. His statement, in a letter to the Colonial Secretary, that "free settlers in general... are by far the most discontented persons in the country," and that "emancipated convicts, or persons become free by servitude, made in many instances the best description of settlers," was much held against him.
Macquarie is regarded as having been ambivalent towards the Australian Aborigines. He ordered punitive expeditions against the aborigines. However, when dealing with friendly tribes, he developed a strategy of nominating a 'chief' to be responsible for each of the clans, identified by the wearing of a brass breast-plate engraved with his name and title. Although this was a typically European way of negotiation, it often did reflect the actual status of elders within tribes.
Despite opposition from the British government, Macquarie encouraged the creation of the colony's first bank, the Bank of New South Wales (1817).
Leaders of the free settler community complained to London about Macquarie's policies, and in 1819 the government appointed an English judge, John Bigge, to visit New South Wales and report on its administration. Bigge generally agreed with the settlers' criticisms, and his reports on the colony led to Macquarie's resignation in 1821: he had however served longer than any other governor. Bigge also recommended that no governor should again be allowed to rule as an autocrat, and in 1824 the New South Wales Legislative Council, Australia's first legislative body, was appointed to advise the governor.
Macquarie returned to Scotland, and died in London in 1824 while busy defending himself against Bigge's charges. But his reputation continued to grow after his death, especially among the emancipists and their descendants, who were the majority of the Australian population until the gold rushes. Today he is regarded by many as the real founder of Australia as a country, rather than as a prison camp. The nationalist school of Australian historians have treated him as a proto-nationalist hero. His grave in Mull is maintained at the expense of the National Trust of Australia and is inscribed "The Father of Australia." Macquarie formally adopted the name Australia for the continent, the name earlier proposed by the first circumnavigator of Australia, Matthew Flinders. As well as the many geographical features named after him in his lifetime, he is commemorated by Macquarie University in Sydney.
Macquarie was buried on the Isle of Mull in a remote mausoleum with his wife and son.
Many places in Australia have been named in Macquarie's honour (some of these were named by Macquarie himself). They include:
At the time of his governorship or shortly thereafter:
Many years after his governorship:
Institutions named after Macquarie: