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George Mackie (1823–1871)

by Alan Dougan

This article was published:

George Mackie, by Paterson Bros, 1871

George Mackie, by Paterson Bros, 1871

State Library of Victoria, H29545

George Mackie (1823-1871), Presbyterian minister, was born at Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, near Montrose, Angus, Scotland, son of John Mackie, farmer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Sheriffs. Educated at the local school, he engaged in commerce for some years and matriculated at the University of St Andrews, where he read classics and philosophy, but did not take a degree. He also attended the divinity course of the Free Church at New College, Edinburgh. He became a good scholar and was later said to be fluent in French, German, Italian and Spanish. He was licensed by the Free Church Presbytery of Brechin in 1848 and sent by its Colonial Committee to Australia. He sailed in the Lysander to Melbourne where he preached his first colonial sermon and in the Shamrock arrived at Sydney on 25 March 1849.

Mackie ministered briefly to the Pitt Street Congregation of the Free Church (later part of St Stephen's, Macquarie Street) which was awaiting the arrival of Rev. Alex Salmon from Barrhead, Scotland. On Salmon's arrival Mackie was ordained by the Free Church Presbytery at Jamberoo and became minister of Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Soon afterwards he married Barbara, fourth daughter of William Smith of Montrose, who came from Scotland with her father to join him. He served this large area from Kiama until 1857, when he went to Lake Learmonth and Burrumbeet in Victoria and was succeeded by John Kinross. His parents and other members of the family had settled in the Burrumbeet district, and Mrs Mackie's sister Jane was the wife of a neighbouring minister, Rev. Thomas Hastie of Buninyong.

Mackie's ministry at Learmonth and Burrumbeet was very active. He built a manse at Lake Learmonth and established churches at Miners Rest, Creswick and Clunes. He helped to create the Presbytery of Ballarat and ministered over a wide area. While in Sydney on church business in 1860 he heard that Elizabeth, youngest of his three daughters, had contracted diphtheria. He hurried home to discover that his wife, aged 30, and daughter, aged 19 months, had died of the disease on 13 August. Soon afterwards he moved to the parish of Horsham. In September 1861 he married Margaret Lyon Williamson at Geelong. In May 1862 he was called to South Yarra and exercised a singularly successful ministry until 1871.

Mackie was small and slightly built but had great energy. As an earnest pastor he inspired much affection and became a public figure in Melbourne. He was convener of the Presbyterian Church's Chinese and Aborigines Mission Committee in Victoria; he also took a keen interest in evangelism in the Melbourne gaol. He strongly favoured the union of the Synod of Victoria and the Free Presbyterian Church of Victoria, which took place on 7 April 1857. Among many causes he supported the Deaf and Dumb Institute and the temperance movement. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, the Loyal Orange Lodge, the Grand United Order of Gardeners, the Manchester Unity Oddfellows and the Young Men's Christian Association. He was elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and installed on 14 November 1871. Three weeks later he was taken ill during divine service in South Yarra Church and died on 12 December aged 48, survived by his second wife and two daughters. His funeral was well attended by his fellow ministers and many other dignitaries in Melbourne, and Governor Manners-Sutton sent his carriage.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Sutherland, The History of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Lond, 1877)
  • J. Cameron, Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales (Syd, 1905)
  • D. M. Stewart, Jubilee History of the Presbyterian Church in Victoria (Melb, 1909)
  • C. A. White, The Challenge of the Years (Syd, 1951)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 13 Dec 1871
  • papers written by D. G. Walton, Ballarat (held by author).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Alan Dougan, 'Mackie, George (1823–1871)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 28 May 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

George Mackie, by Paterson Bros, 1871

George Mackie, by Paterson Bros, 1871

State Library of Victoria, H29545

Life Summary [details]


Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, Scotland


12 December, 1871 (aged ~ 48)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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