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Below are Macquarie's instructions to James Meehan, Assistant Surveyor, 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]
You can also read the full transcript of the instructions here (PDF, 590kb).
Road tolls to be paid by everyone
A government order came into effect after a high ranking officer refused to pay a toll. Macquarie believed that all people should be subject to the law and, regardless of rank, should pay tolls. Judge Jefferey Hart Bent was of the opinion that the toll was illegal. Macquarie's insistence that Bent pay the toll created an enemy of Bent, who then used his influence to undermine Macquarie in later years.
From NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, pages 134-135; Reel 6038]
You can read the full transcript of the government order here (PDF, 568kb).
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 no-one was 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.
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, and 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]
You can read the full transcript of the proclamation here (PDF, 476kb).
Macquarie's idea of establishing a bank in New South Wales was rejected by the British Government at Whitehalll.
This letter was sent as an enclosure to a Despatch from the Earl of Liverpool to Governor Macquarie. It was 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 could be established in New South Wales. 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
You can read the full transcript here (PDF, 302kb).
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. Macquarie, now a Major General, wrote 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.
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]
You can read the transcript here (PDF, 300kb).
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
You can read the transcript here (PDF, 297kb).
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]
You can also read the full transcript about the improvements here (PDF, 393kb).
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]
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 was issued to the Aboriginal people to meet at the market place in Parramatta on 28 December 1816 to attend a Native Feast.
You can also read the full transcript of the notice here (PDF, 392kb).
In 1815 Macquarie undertook an historic 'tour' over the Blue Mountains which enabled Macquarie
personally to appreciate...the importance of that country.
Macquarie had personally made the crossing and had seen the country beyond the Blue Mountains for himself. He praises those who had explored and those who had built the road over the mountains. He also describes the naming of various places such as 'Spring Wood', Mount York and Bathurst. The descriptions of the countryside are detailed and enthusiastic, including a reference to the paradox - a water mole or platypus (see pp.108 and 112 below).
Macquarie 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).
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 to the Bathurst Plains.
Descriptions of Bathurst can be read on pages 109-112 of the public notice below.
From NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices 1810-1819 [SZ759, pages 100-114; Reel 6038]
You can also read the full transcript of Macquarie's journey over the Blue Mountains here (PDF, 483kb).
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. You can read the transcript here (PDF, 397kb).
In 1820 a Benevolent Society deputation to Governor Macquarie sought the building of a Benevolent Asylum in Sydney.
From NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1744 p.255-6], Reel 6049. You can read the full transcript here (PDF, 273kb).
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.
Macquarie ordered his boots from Mr Hobby, Boot and Shoemaker, in 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. You can also read the transcript of Macquarie's request here (PDF, 395kb).
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.
Read the full definition on the website Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms under "Worm Fits"
The infant Lachlan survived the fever.
From NRS 937 Colonial Secretary: Copies of letters sent within the Colony, 1 Jan 1814-30 Jan 1827 [4/3498, page 280; Reel 6006]. You can also read the transcript here (PDF version).
In 1817, James Frost of Port Dalrymple received land and cattle. His wife nursed the infant, Lachlan Macquarie. You can read the transcript here (PDF, 394kb).
The unique Australian 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]
You can also read the full transcript here (PDF, 408kb).
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]
You can read the full transcript here (PDF, 412kb).
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 Campbelltown. 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 the State Archies and Records Authority. Read more »
Links to Macquarie
- Official Macquarie 2010 website
- Benevolent Society - Lachlan Macquarie's Legacy
- LEMA - The Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Online - Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824)
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Online - Elizabeth Macquarie (1778-1835)
- Dictionary of Sydney - Lachlan Macquarie
- Lachlan Macquarie's Armchair - listed in the Powerhouse Museum catalogue