The American War of Independence prompted Macquarie, aged 16 at the time, to enrol in active military service with his father in 1775. By 1781 he was promoted to Lieutenant. This signalled the start of an impressive military career that lasted over 30 years and saw him achieve the rank of Major General. His service not only earned him a small fortune but provided him with the opportunity to travel. He visited North America, Jamaica and Egypt before beginning a long period of association with India.
While in Bombay, he met and married Jane Jarvis, the heiress daughter of a former Chief Justice of Antigua. Jane died of tuberculosis a few years after the marriage.
Macquarie became deeply depressed and decided to go back to Mull. Here he met Elizabeth Campbell, who in 1807 became his second wife. Macquarie was soon after offered the position of Governor of New South Wales by the British Crown and he went back to Australia in 1809. In March 1814, Elizabeth gave birth to Lachlan Junior, heir to the Mull estate.
Macquarie took office in 1810 and set about improving the morale and the physical infrastructure of the Colony. He and Elizabeth toured widely, forging strong relationships and establishing a positive, progressive tone that soon saw the creation of a civilised and stable society.
On one occasion the new colony ran out of cash and so Macquarie took a gold doubloon and punched out the centre, then giving twice the number of coins
The early days of colonialism had some very dark sides to them and Macquarie was involved like many others in them. ‘ In 1816 he ordered a punitive expedition against indigenous Australian peoples that led to the Appin Massacre of the Gundungurra and Dharawal people.
Soldiers used their horses to drive an unknown number of men, women and children over cliffs to their deaths at two separate locations. 14 people were shot dead. Following his actions an English Judge (John Bigge) wrote a report that eventually led to Macquarie’s resignation, and recommended that no governor be permitted to act like an autocrat again.
Back to Mull
Ill health led Macquarie to tend his resignation three times during his term in office; his third offer was accepted and the family returned home in 1822. A tour of the continent followed and afterwards they came back to Mull. In 1824, sensing his death approaching, Lachlan put his affairs in order and chose a burial site on the Gruline Estate in Mull. He died on 1 July 1824.
For many years the Macquarie Mausoleum was sadly neglected. But in 1948, Lady Yarborough, the owner of a nearby estate, gifted the mausoleum site to the people of New South Wales. Today, the tomb is preserved and protected by both The National Trust of Scotland and The National Trust of Australia. In 1851 the Drummond family, a socially prominent family, built a final mausoleum on the site.
Set in a grassed area surrounded by a circular stone wall with wrought iron gates, the Macquarie Mausoleum is a plain sandstone structure with two marble panels enclosing the entrance doorways. It holds the remains of Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie and their children, Lachlan – and Jane, who died in infancy.
Click on the link for a location map.