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Daniel Mackinnon (1818–1889)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

Daniel Mackinnon (1818-1889), pastoralist, was born at Lagg, Isle of Arran, Scotland, son of John Mackinnon, farmer, and his wife Mary, née Curdie. At 21 he abandoned his theological studies at the University of Glasgow and migrated to Port Phillip in the Caledonia, arriving in September 1839. For a few months he lived with John Aitken at Sunbury and then with Major Fraser took up a run at Mordialloc. This proved a disastrous venture and Mackinnon lost most of his capital. An uncle and grand-uncle came to his assistance and with another uncle, Daniel Curdie, Mackinnon moved to the Western District in search of land. They took up Lovely Banks and continued as partners until 1843, when Curdie took Tandorook and Mackinnon, in partnership with Hugh Scott, kept the Jancourt portion of 10,000 acres (4047 ha). In 1852 Mackinnon & Scott bought the rights to Marida Yallock; the partnership was divided and Mackinnon took Marida Yallock. By 1857 he had bought 7000 acres (2833 ha) and had also invested in New Zealand property. In 1858 he visited Scotland where he married Jane Kinross.

In 1859-85 Mackinnon was a member of the Hampden Road Board and its successor, the Hampden and Heytesbury Shire Council, and was president for six years. He was also acting trustee in the long drawn-out settlement of the important Hastie estate. Finding more than half his time devoted to the affairs of others, he refused to be gazetted a justice of the peace.

Marida Yallock was originally sour country but years of hard work made it one of the most famous fattening properties in Victoria. Mackinnon specialized in Shorthorn cattle. He also bred hacks and carriage horses and supplied the Victorian Police Department. In the early 1870s he invested in sheep and by 1875 was running some 12,000.

Mackinnon was an active supporter of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society; he established Californian quail at Marida Yallock but English song birds died. A keen horticulturist, he won prizes at the Camperdown Horticultural Show for his flowers and successfully planted elms, bluegums and Tasmanian and Japanese trees. At Marida Yallock the Mackinnons entertained their friends, including Niel Black and Professor H. A. Strong. In 1874 Mackinnon, Black and others, angered by the views of the Hampden Guardian, established the Camperdown Chronicle with James Allen as editor and a capital of £1500. With Mackinnon as treasurer and other strong backing the Chronicle thrived and in 1877 he bought out the Guardian. He also supported the Camperdown branch of the Free Trade League of Victoria.

In the 1870s Mackinnon became interested in Queensland investment. He made a trip north and with Andrew Tobin bought Marion Downs, a cattle run in the North Gregory district, and later became sole owner; the station remained in the family until 1934. In 1884 William Kinross, Mackinnon's second son, took over the management of Marida Yallock. In 1885 Mackinnon resigned from the council and revisited Scotland. His last term as president in 1882-83 had not been altogether happy but his advocacy of railway extension had earned the gratitude of the whole shire.

Mackinnon's letters reveal his care for relations, neighbours and friends and his concern for the simple things of life. A devoted Presbyterian, he was active in the management of the Camperdown and Terang Churches, helped the Cobden Church and gave money to various church causes. In 1884 he donated to the scholarship fund of Ormond College and served on its council from 1885 until he died on 19 February 1889. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and four sons who were educated at Geelong Grammar School: the eldest, Donald, entered New College, Oxford, (B.A., 1883) and was admitted to the Bar of the Middle Temple (1883); James Curdie went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1886 and became a pastoralist; and Kenneth John also went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge (B.A., 1891).

Select Bibliography

  • A. Henderson (ed), Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina (Melb, 1936)
  • Presbyterian Monthly, 1 Mar 1889
  • Camperdown Chronicle, 22 Sept 1883, 21 Feb 1889
  • Mackinnon papers (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Mackinnon, Daniel (1818–1889)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 18 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

Life Summary [details]


Isle of Arran, Bute, Scotland


19 February, 1889 (aged ~ 71)
Terang, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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