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Australian founding father Lachlan Macquarie’s wealth was built on the slave trade

Proof of Australia’s link to slavery: Why one of Australia’s founding fathers is linked to the vile trade – and how he even brought a slave to Sydney he’d bought when he was just SIX

  • Ex-NSW governor is heralded for turning penal colony into thriving settlement
  • But the Scottish-born political leader had also built wealth on the slave trade
  • Lachlan Macquarie inherited large sum from his first wife when she died aged 23
  • Database records show he received £6,000 from daughter of plantation owners
  • Macquarie also bought servant aged just six who followed him around the world 

Celebrated New South Wales governor-general Lachlan Macquarie owed much of his wealth to an inheritance from his first wife – the daughter of Antiguan plantation owners

Celebrated Australian founding father Lachlan Macquarie inherited a vast fortune built by the slave trade – and even bought two of his own when they were just boys, historical records have shown.

Macquarie, the fifth governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, is considered to be the ‘Father of the Nation’, because he turned the struggling penal colony into a thriving commercial settlement. 

And in 1795, long before he took up the position, he even bought two ‘healthy black boys’ aged between six and seven in India, for 170 rupees, The Australian reported. 

A University College London database has revealed Macquarie inherited money from his first wife Jane Jarvis. She owed her wealth to her parents, who owned plantations on the Caribbean island of Antigua and kept 300 slaves.

The £6,000 gift in 1796, worth roughly £610,000 (AUD$1.2million) in 2020 adjusted for inflation, was used by Macquarie to buy land on the Isle of Mull in Scotland six years later.

The fifth governor-general of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821 is widely considered to be Australia's 'Father of the Nation'. Pictured is his statue in Sydney's Hyde Park

The fifth governor-general of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821 is widely considered to be Australia’s ‘Father of the Nation’. Pictured is his statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park

One of the two young boys bought by the then-British army officer, George Jarvis, went on to become Macquarie’s child slave, manservant and valet.

Macquarie gave the boys the surname of his first wife, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 23.   

‘Lt Gray returned from Cochin and brought me two very fine well looking healthy black boys, both seemingly of the same age,’ the diary reads.

‘And I should suppose from their size and their appearance that they must be six years and seven years of age.’  

Historian Robin Walsh – who has focused on the NSW governor’s life in his role with the Macquarie University Library in Sydney – said George followed his buyer around the world including to Sydney in a ‘friendship that extended over 30 years’.

When in Scotland, Mr Walsh told SBS Hindi the boy would have been granted his freedom as the country had already outlawed slavery. 

Lachlan Macquirie inherited a £6,000 gift in 1796, worth roughly £610,000 (AUD$1.2million) in 2020 adjusted for inflation, from his first wife Jane Jarvis (pictured)

Lachlan Macquirie inherited a £6,000 gift in 1796, worth roughly £610,000 (AUD$1.2million) in 2020 adjusted for inflation, from his first wife Jane Jarvis (pictured)

The practice had been banned in 1778, almost 20 years before the slave trade was prohibited in the British Empire under the Slave Trade Act 1807.

Macquarie died in 1824 and his will provided George with an annuity of £25.

The will said George should be ‘comfortably fed, clothed and lodged’ at the Scottish-born governor’s home in Jarvisfield on Mull.

Macquarie also brought with him to Sydney (pictured in 1820, when he was governor) George Jarvis - who he bought as a slave boy in India in 1795

Macquarie also brought with him to Sydney (pictured in 1820, when he was governor) George Jarvis – who he bought as a slave boy in India in 1795

The revelation of Macquarie’s slave trade-built wealth comes amid a movement across the Western world to topple monuments to slave traders.

On June 14, Greens staffer Xiaoran Shi, 28, and friend Charmaine Morrison-Mills, 27, allegedly defaced the statue of explorer Captain Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

The pair, who are accused of spray painting the words ‘sovereignty never ceded’ and ‘no pride in genocide’ on the statue, will return to court next month on charges of destroying or damaging property.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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