Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Archibald Campbell McDougall (1818–1881)

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Archibald Campbell McDougall (1818-1881), pastoralist, was born on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, the only son of Hugh McDougall, army captain, and his wife Jane, née Campbell. He arrived in Port Phillip in 1842. In 1845, with an Aboriginal and a mob of sheep, he camped on the present site of the Dunolly Court House, and later built his homestead in a forest of huge gums within view of Mount Bealiba. Neighbouring squatters held such large tracts of land that they did not dispute his claim. In 1851 he married Agnes Broadfoot, daughter of a family of shipowners and merchants; he had met her at Charlotte Plains, an adjoining run owned by the Simson family. Their son, Hugh, was the first white child born in the district.

McDougall's hopes for a permanent settlement were dashed in 1853 when his pastures were overrun by thousands of diggers seeking a share in rich alluvial gold. He referred to the gold rush as 'the fearful commotion of the infernal diggings' and, with men working at his very door, he sold his pre-emptive right section of 640 acres (259 ha) to H. N. Simson in 1854 and moved to Muskerry run on the Campaspe River near Axedale in the Bendigo district. Before offering McDougall's land for sale, Simson subdivided most of it into cultivation blocks and the rest into Goldsborough village, now a siding on the Melbourne-Mildura line.

McDougall returned to the Dunolly district in 1857 and formed a partnership with Simson to manage Archdale and Sandy Creek as well as his original Dunolly run. In 1861 he repurchased the remainder of his property at Goldsborough. In two dry summers McDougall just managed to save his homestead and flocks from fierce bushfires: in 1862 he was thankful for the help of a host of diggers who rushed to his aid following his frantic ride to Cochranes (Bealiba), and in 1863 he had all his clothes burnt when fighting fires in the same area.

For nearly twenty years McDougall worked to improve the services of his district. The town of Cochranes was largely the result of his persistent representations to the authorities to obtain one public institution after another. He was a member of the Road Board that preceded the Bet Bet Shire Council, a member of the Dunolly Hospital Committee and a vice-president of the Highland Society of the North West Province. Before he left the district, residents from Tarnagulla, Bealiba, Bet Bet, Natte Yallock, Eddington and Dunolly attended an evening in his honour. He took up land at Corner Inlet and also spent some time on the lower Murray.

McDougall retained his feeling for his Celtic ancestors. He was famous for his cordial hand-shake, his greetings in Gaelic, and for his regular appearances at Scottish gatherings in the garb of his clan and looking every inch a Highlander. When he judged the dancing and dress at the early meetings of the Maryborough Highland Society, he wore on his kilt a replica of a brooch taken by his ancestor, the lord of Lorne, from King Bruce in 1340. He died aged 62 at Spring Bank near Benalla on 14 May 1881. His wife, a devout Presbyterian, died on 14 June 1906 at Castlemaine aged 82. Of their two daughters and three sons, one son died in infancy at Archdale and the last surviving son, John Lorne, died at Kilmore in 1944.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Flett, Dunolly (Glen Waverley, 1956)
  • Dunolly Express, 25 July 1863, 20 May 1881
  • Herald (Melbourne), 8 June 1885
  • Mount Alexander Mail, 15 June 1906
  • Kilmore Free Press, 2 Jan 1944.

Citation details

'McDougall, Archibald Campbell (1818–1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 22 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]


Isle of Islay, Argyll, Scotland


14 May, 1881 (aged ~ 63)
Benalla, Victoria, Australia

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