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Alexander Macleaybefore 1848

by possibly by William Owen or Frederick Richard Say

Scottish-born Alexander Macleay, aged 58, came out of retirement to take up an appointment as Colonial Secretary to New South Wales in 1825. Macleay immigrated to Sydney with his family and worked long hours for 23 years as a senior government official and member of the Legislative Council.

In 1835 he built Elizabeth Bay House at considerable expense. An imposing residence in Greek Revival style, it was regarded as ‘the finest house in the colony’ which reflected the Macleay family’s high social and political status.

Macleay had a love of lepidoptery, and brought his comprehensive collections of moths and butterflies with him from the United Kingdom. After his death in 1848, his entomological collections were donated to the University of Sydney, forming the basis for the Macleay Museum collection.