Macquarie Family returns to Scotland

Governor Lachlan Macquarie, his wife Elizabeth and their son Lachlan sailed back to Great Britain on the Surry in 1822. At the age of 61 Macquarie was looking forward to retirement on his property Jarvisfield in Scotland.

Disappointment, however, awaited the family. The government ignored the petition by Macquarie for the promised pension of £500 per year. The family struggled on their meagre savings for nearly two years.

Acting on a premonition of his own death, Macquarie surprised and alarmed Elizabeth by giving her a box containing memorabilia from his days serving in the Army in India. It contained mementoes of his first wife, something he had never mentioned to Elizabeth before.

In the summer of 1824 he went to London to try to persuade the government to honour its promised pension. An urgent call to Elizabeth and son Lachlan in Scotland had them hurrying to London. Macquarie lay on his death bed. Looking at his son his last words were “Fine lad, fine lad”.

Elizabeth returned to Scotland and was eventually granted the pension although at a reduced rate. She lived on the Island of Mull working to have published her husband’s reply to the allegations made in the Bigge Inquiry regarding his term as governor of New South Wales. The government finally published Macquarie’s answers to Bigge’s accusations in the Parliamentary Papers in June 1828. Elizabeth also ensured the inscription on Lachlan’s tombstone reads: The Father of Australia.

In 1831, son Lachlan, aged 16 years joined the army and Elizabeth purchased an ensign position for him in the 42nd Regiment of Foot. Elizabeth Macquarie passed away peacefully at Gruline House in March 1835 aged 56. In 1845 son Lachlan died in an accident at Craignish Castle and was buried with his parents.

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