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Mackenzie Family land holdings

Note: This isn't directly about Colin John Mackenzie, Esq. but provides interesting historical background to the times, and indicates where this witness was coming from in his attitudes towards land ownership, capitalist development &c.

MACKENZIE, Sir EVAN (1816-1883), "soldier and pastoralist, was born on 5 August 1816 at Portobello, Edinburgh, son of Colin Mackenzie and his wife Isabella, nee Cameron. Educated mainly in Europe he learnt to speak French, German and some Greek. On 17 April 1837 he volunteered as a cadet in the 1st Kaiser Ferdinand Hussar Regiment of the Austrian army. He served on garrison duty at Ujecs in Hungary, was promoted second lieutenant on 1 April 1838 and resigned on 31 April 1840.

In September Mackenzie sailed with his brother Colin for Sydney and in 1842 took up a station at Kilcoy, near Brisbane. He was appointed a justice of the peace, built the first house in Ipswich and in 1844 bought land at Kangaroo Point where he started a boiling-down works and established a village. He was prominent in various public meetings of squatters and a friend of Ludwig Leichhardt [q.v.]. On 2 November 1844 he married Sarah Anna Philomena, daughter of James Parks of Londonderry.

Mackenzie's father was created baronet in 1836 and when he died in 1845 Evan succeeded to the title. He sold his Queensland interests and retired to Scotland in April 1846. He became a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of Ross and Cromarty County but continued to travel. He spent some time in America and was not resident at his home, Belmaduthy House, when the 1881 census was taken. He died in London on 12 December 1883, survived by four daughters. His only son Colin Charles (b. 1848) predeceased him and the title became extinct.

After Mackenzie left Queensland stories of a mass poisoning of Aboriginals by arsenic on Kilcoy during his tenure started to circulate. Though never confirmed, the rumours were mentioned in a select committee in 1861 (to find) and repeated by W. Coote [q.v.] in 1867. They became part of the Australian legend but no suggestion of participation by Mackenzie was ever made.

J. D. Lang, Cooksland, in north-eastern Australia (Lond, 1847); W. Coote, The history of the colony of Queensland (Brisb, 1867); M. Anrousseau (ed), The letters of F. W. Ludwig Leichhardt (Cambridge, 1968); V&P (LA Qld), "1861, 477; Town and Country J, 23 Feb 1884; Osterreicher Staatsarchiv, Kriegsarchiv, Vienna. H. 

J. Gibbney"


"1811-1873), squatter and politician, was born on 21 July 1811 at Coul, Ross-shire, Scotland, the fourth son of Sir George Steuart Mackenzie, 7th baronet, and his wife Mary, the daughter of Donald Macleod of Geanies, Ross-shire. With 750 Mackenzie arrived in the Wave at Sydney in April 1832 and joined his brother James. He soon paid H.H. Macarthur [q.v.] 500 for sheep which he depastured at Riddlesdale, near Dungog, and the brothers began to speculate in land. In 1837 Mackenzie bought Salisbury Station in the New England district and separated from his brother, promising him 3000. By 1839 he was heavily in debt and borrowed 8000 from his family in Scotland. He continued to buy stock and take up runs in New England; at different time he held Bolivia, Furracabad, Ballindean, Turracabal and Tenterfield stations, which were left in the charge of managers while he lived in Sydney. By December 1840 he was 19,000 in debt ...  His accounts failed to improve and in 1844 he became bankrupt with debts of over 27,000. An absentee squatter who allegedly lived extravagantly in Sydney, Mackenzie's financial methods were slipshod and he kept 'no book of accounts showing . . . receipts of the wool'. His speculations were deliberately obscure and his creditors suspected that people held sheep and properties for him. After the crash he managed Tenterfield for Donaldson. In 1846 Mackenzie got his certificate of discharge and married Louisa Alexandrina (d. 1906), daughter of Richard Jones [q.v.]. In 1847 he was appointed a magistrate and lived at Clifton, New England.

In 1856 Mackenzie was part-lessee of fifty-two runs with a total area of 1536 square miles in the Leichhardt and Burnett Districts, on the upper Dawson River, in the Carnarvon and Expedition Ranges and on Barambah Creek. His average tenure was about three years, but this time his transactions were profitable and he had disposed of all his interests by the depression of 1867. He was a trustee of the Trust and Agency Co. of Australasia and lived in New Farm, Brisbane.

On the separation of Queensland Mackenzie entered politics. He was chosen on 18 December 1859 by Governor Bowen, who described him as a pastoralist 'of high honour and integrity, of methodical habits of business', as colonial treasurer in Herbert's [q.v.] first ministry. From May 1860 to April 1869 he represented the Burnett in the Legislative Assembly. While treasurer he described G. E. Dalrymple's [q.v.] proposed expedition to the Burdekin as land speculation and influenced the government to countermand the proclamation opening the Kennedy district. From December 1859 he had served on the Board of National Education and as chairman of the Board of General Education set up under the 1860 Act, but resigned in 1861 after being rebuked in parliament for his opposition to subsidies for denominational schools and left the board in 1862.

Mackenzie resigned as treasurer when Arthur Macalister [q.v.] was preferred as acting head of the administration when Herbert went to England in 1862. Bitterly disappointed, Mackenzie published in the Guardian his correspondence with Herbert, interpreting it as a promise of succession. He put even more blame on Macalister and joined those who opposed him. However, the offer of the colonial secretaryship induced Mackenzie in February 1866 to serve under Macalister, who resigned on 18 July in the financial crisis. After Herbert's brief premiership, Macalister formed another ministry but without Mackenzie whom he alleged had made a written offer to join him. Mackenzie led the attacks on Macalister, partly on the extent of free selection envisaged in a land bill. He defended the alienation of land to squatters and asserted that 'a great deal of balderdash had been talked about squatters and "cormorants".' Macalister resigned on 15 August 1867 and Mackenzie formed the next government as premier and colonial treasurer.

His ministry, dominated by squatting members including Arthur Palmer [q.v.], passed land legislation guaranteeing graziers in the settled areas ten-year leases of half their existing runs with extensive rights of pre-emption, and in the outside areas twenty-one-year leases. Mackenzie's Crown Land Alienation Act seemed to encourage agriculture but led to much dummying and speculation by the squatters. His ministry passed forty-eight measures, including 1 several innocuous legal bills, but his position as leader was never assured. Though defeated I by two votes in August 1868 during the address-in-reply debate, his resignation was refused by Governor Blackall who granted ' him a dissolution. When parliament met in November he won the vote on the address-in-reply only by the casting vote of the Speaker and resigned.

On 21 December 1868 his brother William died and Mackenzie succeeded as 10th baronet. Despite his organizing ability he did not seek re-election in 1869. In 1871 he returned to Scotland where he died on 19 September 1873, survived by his wife, a son and four daughters, two of whom married into the Archer family [q.v.] of Queensland.  Mackenzie was not an outstanding ' squatter or politician. As an absentee squatter he could justly be described as a cormorant who left no roots in the land. Although premier and leader of the Opposition in Queensland he had no firm support and was dominated by other politicians. Physically large, he was limited intellectually and as a leader.

(From: Australian Dictionary of Biography, General Editor Pike, Douglas, Vol. 5 1851-1890, Melbourne University Press 1974, Pages 170-172)