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Lachlan Macquarie: visionary and builder

Lachlan Macquarie became Governor of New South Wales on 1st January 1810. This gallery celebrates Macquarie by featuring iconic documents (together with transcriptions with some interpretation) from the wealth of Macquarie related material in our collection. This is a work in progress.

Official Macquarie 2010 logo

This digital gallery has received official endorsement from the Macquarie 2010 Committee.

Lachlan Macquarie, 1822 [by Richard Read] 
Mitchell Library, SLNSW P2/144, Digital Order No. a128361
Reproduced courtesy of the State Library of NSW

Lachlan Macquarie signature

Instructions | Proclamations | Improvements | Public notices | Explorations | General | Impact on recordkeeping

Instructions

Town planning

Below are Macquarie's instructions to James Meehan for the laying out of the Five Townships of Windsor, Richmond, Pitt town, Wilberforce and Castlereagh dated 26 December 1810.

Notice Macquarie's attention to detail in the instructions: he sets a regular width for the streets and the assignment of land to be used for the Church, School, Gaol and Guard house. He even gives directions as to the type of dwelling houses which may be built.

The instructions are from NRS 935 Colonial Secretary: Copies of letters sent - Local and overseas, 28 Dec 1809-28 Dec 1813 [4/3490D, pages 55-60; Reel 6002]

Click an image to view a larger version or browse all images with descriptions and transcripts.

  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (1 of 6)
  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (2 of 6)
  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (3 of 6)
  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (4 of 6)
  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (5 of 6)
  • Instructions for the laying out of the Five Townships (6 of 6)

You can also read the full transcript of the instructions here.

Road tolls to be paid by everyone

A government order is put into effect after a high ranking officer refused to pay a toll.

Macquarie believed that all persons were subject to the law and that all regardless of rank should pay the toll. Judge Jefferey Hart Bent believed the toll illegal. Macquarie's insistence that he pay the toll created an enemy of Bent who would then use his influence to undermine Macquarie.

From NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, pages 134-135; Reel 6038]

  • Government order states tolls must be paid by all persons, 1815 (1 of 2)
  • Government order states tolls must be paid by all persons, 1815 (2 of 2)

You can read the full transcript of the government order here.

Further to this matter, Macquarie issued a proclamation in 1820 which stated a toll was to be paid by everyone on the turnpike road, between Sydney and Parramatta. The proclamation notes the amount to be paid (depending on the type of vehicle used) and also that and that no-one is liable to pay the toll more than once in a 24 hour period. It also states that "...no Toll or Duty shall be taken...for any Horses belonging to Officers or Soldiers upon their March, or upon Duty; or for any Horses, cattle or Carriages actually and solely employed in the Service of Government, or in carrying any sick or wounded Soldiers".

  • Regulations and tolls for the turnpike road 1820

Proclamations

Moral behaviour

Written on the 24th February 1810 and signed by Macquarie, the following is titled "Illicit Intercourse, evils arising therefrom."

While some may see this as a moral sermon on the perceived evils of immorality and cohabiting without marriage, Macquarie also points out to women the practical difficulties which will be encountered legally on the death of their partner. If their partner dies Intestate without a legal marriage they will not be entitled to the man's possessions.

The proclamation is from NRS 1043 Colonial Secretary: Digest of proclamations, government and general orders, 1791-1821 [SZ756, pages 579-581; Reel 6039]

  • Illicit Intercourse, evils arising therefrom (1 of 3)
  • Illicit Intercourse, evils arising therefrom (2 of 3)
  • Illicit Intercourse, evils arising therefrom 3 of 3)
You can read the full transcript of the proclamation here.

Improvements

Banking

Macquarie's idea of establishing a bank in New South Wales is rejected by Whitehall.

Written to Robert Peel, Under Secretary for War and the Colonies, conveying the disapproval of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade to a suggestion by Macquarie that a Government Colonial Bank be established in New South Wales. This was sent as an enclosure to a Despatch from the Earl of Liverpool to Governor Macquarie. See Historical Records of Australia Series I Vol.7 p.367. 

A bank would eventually be established in 1817.

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1726 p.126-127], Reel 6043

  • Letter from Whitehall objecting to the establishment of a bank in NSW (1 of 2)
  • Letter from Whitehall objecting to the establishment of a bank in NSW (2 of 2)

You can read the full transcript here.

Building

During Macquarie's administration there were many public works projects and improvements. Below is Macqaurie's list of public works undertaken, 1810-1821. The list includes public roads; Bathurst; Campbelltown; Castlereagh; Castle Hill; Cawdor; Emu Plains; George Town; Hobart; Launceston; Liverpool; Longbottom; Newcastle; Parramatta; Pennant Hills; Penrith; Pitt Town; Port Macquarie; Richmond; Rooty Hill; Springwood; Sydney; Vale of Clywdd, and; Wilberforce.

The significance of this list is that it is Macquarie's own account of the buildings and public works achieved under his Governorship of New South Wales. It is part of a much longer account of his achievements in New South Wales. Written in London in July 1822 as Major General Macquarie, he is no longer Governor of NSW and is writing to Earl Bathurst giving an account of his administration in the hope of defending himself and his Governorship of NSW against the Bigge Report. 

The list is from Historical Records of Australia Series I Volume 10 pages 684-701.

  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Sydney and surrounds (1 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Sydney and surrounds (2 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Sydney and Parramatta (3 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Parramatta, Windsor, Liverpool (4 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Liverpool, Castlereagh, Richmond, Pitt Town, Wilberforce, Penrith, Emu Plains (5 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Springwood, Vale of Clwydd, Bathurst, Campbelltown, Cawdor, Rooty Hill, Longbottom (6 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Pennant Hills, Castle Hill, Public Roads, Newcastle (7 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Hobart (8 of 9)
  • Schedule of public buildings and works erected NSW - Hobart, Launceston, George Town (9 of 9)

Farming

Macquarie accepted 300 merino rams from John Macarthur for the Government to improve the breed of sheep in Van Diemen's Land.

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/7081, pages 5-6; Fiche 3264]

  • Offer of 300 merino rams from John Macarthur (1 of 2)
  • Offer of 300 merino rams from John Macarthur (2 of 2)

You can read the transcript here.

Road rules

Even in 1820 traffic accidents occurred. Still in force today, Macquarie ordered all vehicles to be driven on the left side of the road.

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1745 p.144], Reel 6049

  • Drivers keep to the left

You can read the transcript here.

Streetscapes

On 11 August 1810 Macquarie ordered the widening of Sydney streets by the military and that no building was to be erected without prior consent from the Acting Surveyor, James Meehan.

The document is from NRS 1043 Colonial Secretary: Digest of proclamations, government and general orders, 1791-1821 [SZ756, pages 121-122; Reel 6039]

  • Improvement of Streets etc (1 of 2)
  • Improvement of Streets etc (2 of 2)

You can also read the full transcript about the improvements here.

Public notices

Establishment of the Native Institution, 1814

With a view to improving conditions for the Aboriginal people, Macquarie established a "school for the education of the native children" under the management and care of William Shelly.

This document is from NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, pages 11-14; Reel 6038]

Click an image to view a larger version or browse all images with descriptions and transcripts.

  • Establishment of the Native Institution, 1814 (1 of 4)
  • Establishment of the Native Institution, 1814 (2 of 4)
  • Establishment of the Native Institution, 1814 (3 of 4)
  • Establishment of the Native Institution, 1814 (4 of 4)

You can also read the full transcript about the establishment of the Native Institution here.

Invitiation to the Aboriginal people of the Colony, 1816

An invitation to the Aboriginal people to meet at the market place in Parramatta on 28 December 1816 to attend the Native Feast.

This public notice is from NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, page 299; Reel 6038]

  • Government and public notice

You can also read the full transcript of the notice here.

Explorations

Blue Mountains and Bathurst

Dated 10 June 1815 Describing Macquarie's recent 'tour' over the Blue Mountains. The journey was undertaken for Macquarie 'personally to appreciate...the importance of that country.' 

Map of the Settlements in New South Wales, 1817

This account was to inform the general populace of Macquarie's tour over the Blue Mountains. Macquarie had personally made the crossing and had seen the country over the Blue Mountains for himself. He praises those who have explored and those who have built the road over the mountains. We read of the naming of various places such as 'Spring Wood', Mount York and Bathurst. The descriptions of the countryside are detailed and enthusiastic including reference to the paradox or water mole (platypus) see pp.108,112.

He was impressed by the beauty of the mountains he crossed and the land on the otherside 'very capable of yielding all the necessaries of life' (p.109). We read about the site designed for Bathurst and the results of his excursions in the surrounding area. While stating that no one is to go to the newly discovered country without a pass, the descriptions given would seem to be an advertisement to encourage settlers to cross the Blue Mountains.

Descriptions of Bathurst can be read on pages 109-112 of the public notice.

From NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, pages 100-114; Reel 6038]

Click an image to view a larger version or browse all images with descriptions and transcripts.

  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (1 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (2 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (3 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (4 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (5 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (6 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (7 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (8 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (9 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (10 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (11 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (12 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (13 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (14 of 15)
  • Letter to the Civil Department about Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains (15 of 15)

You can also read the full transcript of Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains here.

General

Benevolent Society of NSW

Benevolent Asylum 1901. Photograph courtesy of The Benevolent Society
Photograph courtesy of The Benevolent Society - www.bensoc.org.au

In 1817 Governor Macquarie was asked to preside at the Benevolent Society meetings.  

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1737 p.317], Reel 6047

  • Request to preside at the Bible and Benevolent Society meetings, 1817 (1 of 1). Click for larger version

You can read the transcript here.

In 1820 a deputation to Governor Macquarie sought the building of a Benevolent Asylum.

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1744 p.255-6], Reel 6049

  • Request for the building of a Benevolent Society, 1820 (1 of 2). Click for larger version
  • Request for the building of a Benevolent Society, 1820 (2 of 2)

You can read the full transcript here.

Note: Central Station now stands on the site of the former Benevolent Asylum (Pitt and Devonshire Streets, Sydney). The memorial stone of the Asylum was removed before demolition and can be seen in the foyer of the Benevolent Society's head office in Paddington, Sydney.

Dress

Macquarie orders his boots from Mr Hobby, Boot and Shoemaker, London. The letter is written in Governor Macquarie's own hand.

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1742 p.359], Reel 6048

  • Macquarie orders his boots from London

You can also read the transcript of Macquarie's request here.

Family

The Macquarie's son, Lachlan, was a much wanted child as they had lost a baby daughter and Elizabeth had suffered a number of miscarriages. Their son's illness, worm fever caused them enough concern for the trip to Newcastle to be postponed. Notice that JT Campbell refers to the boy as 'the darling child'. While our research has been inconclusive 'Worm fever' is thought likely to be two separate, but concurrent infections: intestinal worms which would create a lot of itching; plus a viral infection (like flu) that caused a high temperature, flushed skin, headache etc.

UPDATE: Worm fever (or worm fits) definition: When worms are generated in the intestines, they often produce the following symptoms; variable appetite, fetid breadth, acrid eructions and pains in the stomach, grinding of the teeth during sleep, paleness of the countenance; sometimes dizziness, hardness and fullness of the belly; emaciation of the body; slow fever, with evening exacerbations and irregular pulse, and sometimes convulsive fits. [Hooper1843].
Read the full definition on the website Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms under "Worm Fits"

From NRS 937 Colonial Secretary: Copies of letters sent within the Colony, 1 Jan 1814-30 Jan 1827 [4/3498, page 280; Reel 6006]

  • Macquarie's son has an attack of 'worm fever'

You can also read the transcript here (PDF version).

In 1817, James Frost of Port Dalrymple is set to receive land and cattle. His wife nursed the infant, Lachlan Macquarie.

  • Infant son Lachlan nursed by the wife of James Frost

You can read the transcript here.

Gifts

The unique Australia wildlife was of great interest to those in Britain. Macquarie sent presents of these rare creatures to men in positions of influence. Written in Macquarie's own hand, four emus and two black swans were sent to England per 'Coromandel' as presents from Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Lord Castlereagh, and General Sir George Nugent, 24 July 1821. 

From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1748, pages 383-385; Reel 6051]

  • Macquarie sends a gift of swans, 1821 (1 of 3)
  • Macquarie sends a gift of swans, 1821 (2 of 3)
  • Macquarie sends a gift of swans, 1821 (3 of 3)

You can also read the full transcript here.

Departure

This letter, dated 29 February 1822, written in Macquarie's own hand as he is leaving New South Wales gives an insight into the man. Even as he is sailing away he is still recommending convicts for tickets of leave and expressing his concern for those who have supported him and commends them to the patronage and protection of Sir Thomas Brisbane. Is he simply tying up any loose ends or is he holding on to the last vestige of power and influence?

He signs his signature L. Macquarie. Late Governor in Chief of NSW.

From NRS 898, Colonial Secretary Special Bundles, 1794-1825 [2/8130 pp.351-355; Reel 6020]

  • Last orders - Macquarie writes from departing ship (1 of 5)
  • Last orders - Macquarie writes from departing ship (2 of 5)
  • Last orders - Macquarie writes from departing ship (3 of 5)
  • Last orders - Macquarie writes from departing ship (4 of 5)
  • Last orders - Macquarie writes from departing ship (5 of 5)

You can read the full transcript here.

Governor Macquarie’s impact on recordkeeping

Governor Lachlan Macquarie is often remembered as a builder. Under his governorship of New South Wales the Hyde Park Barracks and St. James’ Church were built and he founded towns such as Liverpool and Castlereagh. While he has left a physical record of his time in the colony it is his impact on the recordkeeping of the colony which has left an enduring legacy to the people of New South Wales. It is these public records of Macquarie’s governorship that are held by State Records. Read more »

Lachlan Macquarie, c.1819

Links to Macquarie