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McKenzie, Alexander Kenneth (1769–1838)

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

Alexander Kenneth McKenzie (1769-1838), banker and landowner, was born on 4 September 1769 at Hammersmith, London, son of Alexander Mackenzie, of the Stamp Office, and his wife Mary, née Price. He married Elizabeth Punnett (d.1795) on 30 June 1792 at St Vincent, West Indies. He had acquired much general knowledge and great experience in business by January 1797 when he married Mary Ann, cousin of John Piper. They lived in London for many years and had six children when they emigrated in the Admiral Cockburn to Sydney. They arrived in December 1822 and next May McKenzie was appointed secretary and cashier of the Bank of New South Wales at a salary of £400.

McKenzie was soon active in the public affairs of the colony. In 1824 he signed petitions for a reduction of duties on timber exported to Britain and for government aid to Scots Church. In 1825 he became treasurer of the Sydney auxiliary of the Church Missionary Society, of the Religious Tract Society and of the Turf Club, and a collector of subscriptions for building a Roman Catholic chapel; he was granted 230 acres (93 ha), which he located near Bathurst, where Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane allowed him to purchase by instalments another 5000 acres (2024 ha) at 5s. an acre. This estate McKenzie named Dochairn and left in charge of his eldest son, John Piper. They bought adjoining land and soon had 2000 (809 ha) acres cleared, 50 (20 ha) under cultivation, 250 cattle and 2500 sheep. To pay for this progress John McKenzie drew orders on his father; they passed through many hands and led to much inconvenience and occasional forgery, so A. K. McKenzie printed some three hundred £1 notes, payable at the Bank of New South Wales, and sent them to his son to use instead of orders. In due course these private notes came to the attention of the bank's directors and McKenzie was threatened with charges of negligence if not corrupt practice. The Sydney Gazette, 7 November 1827, interceded on his behalf and claimed that one of the directors, Dr William Redfern, was eager to make his brother-in-law cashier in place of McKenzie. The charges were withdrawn but soon afterwards McKenzie resigned. He also resigned from the magistracy to which he had been appointed in July 1827, and withdrew from his benevolent activities.

In 1828 McKenzie had difficulty in paying the instalments on the 5000 acres (2024 ha) he had bought from the crown, but as the pastoral boom gathered way in the early 1830s he sold part of the section to William Charles Wentworth, and moved to Bathurst. After the Interest Act of 1834 he became active in financing pastoral expansion and helped to found the Bathurst Bank, which opened with him as its president. In 1836 he was reappointed to the magistracy, became treasurer of the Bathurst Bible Society and served on various committees. Next year he retired to Parramatta. He died there on 28 December 1838, aged 70, leaving an estate sworn at £10,000.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 11, 14
  • S. J. Butlin, Foundations of the Australian Monetary System, 1788-1851 (Melb, 1953)
  • newspaper indexes under A. K. McKenzie (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

'McKenzie, Alexander Kenneth (1769–1838)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mckenzie-alexander-kenneth-2407/text3185, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 20 December 2014.

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

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