Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sir Evan Mackenzie (1816–1883)

by H. J. Gibbney

This article was published:

Sir Evan Mackenzie (1816-1883), soldier and pastoralist, was born on 5 August 1816 at Portobello, Edinburgh, son of Colin Mackenzie and his wife Isabella, née Cameron. Educated mainly in Europe he learnt to speak French, German and some Greek. On 17 April 1837 he volunteered as a cadet in the 1st Kaiser Ferdinand Hussar Regiment of the Austrian army. He served on garrison duty at Ujécs in Hungary, was promoted second lieutenant on 1 April 1838 and resigned on 31 April 1840.

In September Mackenzie sailed with his brother Colin for Sydney and in 1841 took up a station at Kilcoy, near Brisbane. He was appointed a justice of the peace, built the first house in Ipswich and in 1843 bought land at Kangaroo Point where he started a boiling-down works and established a village. He was prominent in various public meetings of squatters and a friend of Ludwig Leichhardt. On 1 August (with Catholic rites) and 1 September (with Presbyterian forms) 1845 he married Sarah Anna Philomena, daughter of James Parks of Londonderry.

Mackenzie's father was created baronet in 1836 and when he died in 1845 Evan succeeded to the title. He retired to Scotland in April 1846. He became a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of Ross and Cromarty County but continued to travel. He spent some time in America and was not resident at his home, Belmaduthy House, when the 1881 census was taken. He died in London on 12 December 1883, survived by four daughters. His only son Colin Charles (b.1848) predeceased him and the title became extinct.

After Mackenzie left Queensland stories of a mass poisoning of Aboriginals by arsenic on Kilcoy during his tenure started to circulate. Though never confirmed, the rumours were mentioned in a select committee in 1861 and repeated by W. Coote in 1867. They became part of the Australian legend.

Select Bibliography

  • J. D. Lang, Cooksland in North-Eastern Australia (Lond, 1847)
  • W. Coote, The History of the Colony of Queensland (Brisb, 1867)
  • M. Aurousseau (ed), The Letters of F. W. Ludwig Leichhardt (Cambridge, 1968)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1861, 477
  • Town and Country Journal, 23 Feb 1884
  • Osterreicher Staatsarchiv, Kriegsarchiv, Vienna.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

H. J. Gibbney, 'Mackenzie, Sir Evan (1816–1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 20 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


5 August, 1816
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


12 December, 1883 (aged 67)
London, Middlesex, England

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