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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Macdougall, John Campbell (1805–1848)

by E. Flinn

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

John Campbell Macdougall (1805?-1848), printer, publisher and editor, was the son of John Macdougall (1781-1845), who after a court action over the insurance of a ship sunk in the North Sea in 1815 had sailed for Van Diemen's Land in 1821 and become a merchant and agent. J. C. Macdougall followed him in 1825, and next year established a store in Hobart Town. In 1827 he bought the Tasmanian from George Howe, and became its editor and publisher-proprietor, adopting a moderate attitude to the government. Toward the end of 1827 a series of articles appeared in the Tasmanian entitled 'Review of Colonel Arthur's administration', the authorship of which Macdougall acknowledged in 1842. Robert Murray and Macdougall amalgamated their papers which became the Tasmanian and Austral-Asiatic Review in January 1829; Macdougall withdrew from the partnership toward the end of 1830. In 1832 he visited Sydney and in 1838 bought the Trumpeter, an advertising publication, from Henry Melville. Macdougall also became publisher-proprietor and later editor of the Tasmanian, but sold this paper to John Morgan in September 1839. In that year he bought the Colonial Times from Melville, and became its acknowledged editor, although Thomas Richards appears to have been in charge of the editorial work until 1847.

Early in 1841 Macdougall contemplated a business trip to England. He and his father became involved in a controversy with Edward Abbott of the Hobart Town Advertiser and William Elliston and Thomas Macdowell of the Hobart Town Courier. Macdougall assaulted Macdowell and was bound over to keep the peace. In 1842 Macdougall became involved in insolvency proceedings which were later satisfactorily adjusted; next year he was defendant in an action for libel against the Crown. Early in 1844 he was again involved in insolvency proceedings. In October he again became printer, publisher and proprietor of the Tasmanian and Austral-Asiatic Review for the editor, R. L. Murray. After its last issue on 26 June 1845 the Tasmanian was incorporated in the Colonial Times with Macdougall as editor and proprietor. After Sir John Eardley-Wilmot's death he defended the late lieutenant-governor's honour in the Colonial Times, 2 March 1847.

In May 1825 Macdougall married Sarah Oakes, widow of James Whyte, and a daughter was born in 1826. Sarah died on 29 December 1829 and in 1837 a son was born to his second wife Mary Ann. After Macdougall died on 21 July 1848, aged 43, she carried on his printing business. The Trumpeter ceased soon after his death, but the Colonial Times remained under Mary Ann's management until February 1855 when it was sold to Henri James D'Emden, and she married Kenneth E. Brodribb of Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • E. M. Miller, Pressmen and Governors (Syd, 1952)
  • correspondence file under J. Macdougall (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Additional Resources

Citation details

E. Flinn, 'Macdougall, John Campbell (1805–1848)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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