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Sir Patrick Lindesay (1778–1839)

by A. H. Chisholm

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Sir Patrick Lindesay (1778-1839), soldier and acting governor, was born on 24 February 1778 at Musselburgh, Scotland, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Lindesay. In November 1793, after education at the University of Edinburgh, he joined the army as an ensign and soon afterwards was gazetted lieutenant of the 78th Regiment.

Later he saw service in various countries, and in November 1827 as brevet colonel he arrived in Sydney to succeed Colonel William Stewart of the Buffs in command of the garrison at Port Jackson. He became a member of the Legislative Council soon after arrival and, when the post of lieutenant-governor was abolished, he virtually undertook the same duties. He was also, from April 1829, a member of the Executive Council, and from 22 October 1831, after the departure of Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling, he served as acting governor until the arrival of Governor (Sir) Richard Bourke on 2 December 1831. He returned to England in 1836 and was then promoted major-general and knighted. He died at Portobello near Edinburgh, on 14 March 1839.

Although the period of Lindesay's service in Australia was eventful, including as it did the struggle for representative government and various troubles encountered by Darling, his own experiences appear to have been relatively placid. He did not obtrude unnecessarily in controversial matters but devoted himself almost entirely to his military duties and to promoting natural history and explorations. It was partly through his influence that Charles Sturt, who was a captain in his regiment, made during his great journey of 1829 along the Murray River a valuable collection of bird-skins which was sent by Lindesay to the Edinburgh museum. These and similar donations caused Robert Jameson 1774-1854, professor of natural history at Edinburgh, to write that Lindesay was 'a distinguished officer and a very active naturalist'. Moreover, in 1838 Jameson named the remarkable mound-building scrub-turkey of Australia Meleagris lindesayi, but the action was belated and the name could not be sustained.

Lindesay is commemorated by Sturt's naming of a tributary in South Australia the Lindesay River, and by similar tributes from the botanist-explorer, Allan Cunningham, who originally applied the name Lindesay to a peak now known as Mount Barney near the border of New South Wales and Queensland, though in a readjustment the name was transferred to a neighbouring peak, and from the explorer, (Sir) Thomas Mitchell, who in 1831 gave his name to a dominating mount in the Nandewar Range, New South Wales. In Western Australia, the Scottish medical practitioner Thomas Braidwood Wilson named a peak in the Denmark area after Lindesay in 1829, while exploring the Albany district before taking up land near Braidwood in New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 13-16
  • CO 323/135/423
  • manuscript catalogue under Patrick Lindesay (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

A. H. Chisholm, 'Lindesay, Sir Patrick (1778–1839)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 February, 1778
Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland


14 March, 1839 (aged 61)
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland

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