On this day, 31st January 1762, Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, was born.
Lachlan Macquarie was born on 31 January 1762, on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides islands of Scotland. He joined the army at age 14 and gained experience in North America, India and Egypt. In 1808, he was appointed Governor of the New South Wales colony, a position he held from 1810 to 1821. With his military training and vision for organisation and discipline, Macquarie was well suited to restore order to the colony, following the Rum Rebellion against deposed Governor William Bligh.
Macquarie’s progressive views and humanitarian treatment of convicts and emancipists met with disfavour among the upper-class British settlers. In 1819, English judge John Thomas Bigge was dispatched to inquire into Macquarie’s actions in the colony. Bigge criticised Macquarie for his spending on public works and for his attempts to create an orderly colony. Macquarie resigned his commission and returned to England in 1821 to vindicate his actions and restore his reputation, He was later granted a pension but died soon after in London in 1824.
The State Library of New South Wales holds many pictures, mementos and manuscripts relating to Lachlan Macquarie and his family.