Is the answer to the quiz question last Friday. He was born on an island off Mull and his grave is on Mull, in a small bluestone mausoleum, which is the only National Trust of Australia site in Europe, as far as I know. The mausoleum is encircled by a stone wall and surrounded by country that is reminiscent of parts of New South Wales. In it Macquarie, his daughter who died at only three months old, his wife and his son, who died aged 31, are all buried together.
Macquarie did a great deal for New South Wales and Australia more generally–he devised Sydney’s street plan and it is thanks to him that we have the lovely buildings of Francis Greenway; he encouraged exploration and inland settlement, establishing many of our finest towns; and he was the first person officially to use the name Australia.
Extracts from his diary as he travelled up the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers late in 1810 are available here:
They are interesting partly because they have a real immediacy to them, giving the reader a sense of what it was like to be there, seeing that landscape in all its newly discovered freshness, but also because they reveal Macquarie as a decent, adventurous man who clearly liked and was interested by this new place - and they also give the lie to Jan Morris’s silly comment that he was pompous (although possibly his advice to the hapless settlers about cleanliness in the final entry reveals a lack of insight into the difficulties they may have been facing.)
Sadly, despite his achievements here, Macquarie returned to Britain under something of a cloud. He died there three years later, still defending himself against the attacks of an English judge called Bigge, who had taken the side of free settlers to Australia who did not like Macquarie’s enlightened attitude to emancipated convicts in Australia – they were scandalised by Macquarie’s inviting such people to tea at Government House and appointing ex-convicts to government positions (among them the aforementioned Francis Greenway, who had been transported as a forger and who Macquarie brilliantly appointed colonial architect. The Clifton Club in Bristol is one of Greenway’s pre-transportation works.)
Perhaps Macquarie was the first victim of the Australian fondness for cutting down tall poppies. He was certainly an amiable family man – according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography he even agreed to have the family’s favourite cow shipped all the way from Sydney to Mull (I’m not sure this was necessarily kind to the cow, of course.)
Here is the inscription on his tomb on the Isle of Mull, which, quite fairly, I think, given that he was probably the first figure of authority to have a vision of the colony beyond its origins as a prison, describes him as ‘the father of Australia’:
HERE IN THE HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION
LIE THE REMAINS OF THE LATE
MAJOR GENERAL LACHLAN MACQUARIE
WHO WAS BORN 31ST JANUARY, 1761
AND DIED AT LONDON ON THE 1ST OF JULY, 1824
THE PRIVATE VIRTUES AND AMIABLE DISPOSITION
WITH WHICH HE WAS ENDOWED
RENDERED HIM AT ONCE A MOST BELOVED HUSBAND,
FATHER AND MASTER, AND A MOST ENDEARING FRIEND.
HE ENTERED THE ARMY AT THE AGE OF FIFTEEN
AND THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD OF 47 YEARS
SPENT IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
WAS UNIFORMLY CHARACTERIZED
BY ANIMATED ZEAL FOR HIS PROFESSION, ACTIVE BENEVOLENCE,
AND GENEROSITY WHICH KNEW NO BOUNDS.
HE WAS APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF NEW SOUTH WALES A.D. 1809
AND FOR TWELVE YEARS FULFILLED THE DUTIES OF THAT STATION
WITH EMINENT ABILITY AND SUCCESS.
HIS SERVICES IN THAT CAPACITY
HAVE JUSTLY ATTACHED A LASTING HONOUR TO HIS NAME.
THE WISDOM, LIBERALITY, AND BENEVOLENCE
OF ALL THE MEASURES OF HIS ADMINISTRATION,
HIS RESPECT FOR THE ORDINANCES OF RELIGION
AND THE READY ASSISTANCE WHICH HE GAVE
TO EVERY CHARITABLE INSTITUTION,
THE UNWEARIED ASSIDUITY WITH WHICH HE SOUGHT TO PROMOTE
THE WELFARE OF ALL CLASSES OF THE COMMUNITY,
THE RAPID IMPROVEMENT OF THE COLONY UNDER HIS AUSPICES,
AND THE HIGH ESTIMATION IN WHICH BOTH HIS CHARACTER
AND GOVERNMENT WERE HELD
RENDERED HIM TRULY DESERVING THE APPELLATION
BY WHICH HE HAS BEEN DISTINGUISHED
THE FATHER OF AUSTRALIA.
I hope any Australians travelling in that part of the world will pay a visit to Macquarie. There is something rather lonely about the little building he lies in in that distant place.
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