The Mackie Legend
The family legend in the Nicholls family is that the Mackie’s came out from Scotland after selling a business which made Shortbread. It is also said that they came out with all their own furniture and that this was handed down the family. The furniture was apparently beautifully crafted but where it is now is unknown. When this happened was not a feature of the story.
My maternal grandmothers maiden name was Mackie, from “Mackie’s Shortbread” in Edinburgh, Scotland. Isabella and her sister Margaret sold the business and sailed out to Tasmania with their furniture.1
Isabella enters the story at the outset, because the lady who wrote this, Constance Nicholls believed Isabella was born in Scotland. Connie, as Constance was known, was Isabella’s grand-daughter.
Firstly, in tracing the history of the known Tasmanian Mackie family, no reference could be found supporting any involvement with the well-known Mackie’s Edinburgh shortbread company.
Mackie’s Edinburgh Shortbread Tin
Item for sale on eBay
In fact, the parents of Isabella Mackie, James Mackie and Jane Hunter, were located in the Scottish county of Clackmannan and not in Edinburgh. The births and christenings of James and Jane’s first three children were registered in Alloa, Clackmannan, Scotland and the details match known individuals and events in Tasmania.
The Family in Scotland
It is believed that James Mackie was baptized on 16 November 1816 in Alva, Clackmannan, the son of William Mackie and Margaret White.2 The extent of James’ education is unknown but from later documentation it is known he was provided with a trade as a wool spinner, handed down from his father. James married Jane Hunter on 8 June 1849 in Clackmannan, Scotland.3
Jane was christened as Jean Hunter on 8 March 1821 in Tulliallan, Perth, to David Hunter and Janet Angus.4 Jane and Jean are interchangeable in these Scottish families and so Jean was also known as Jane at various stages through her life.
After their marriage in Clackmannan James and Jane settled in an area called Alloa and on 5 February 1850 their first child was born. Janet Angus Mackie was christened on 3 March 1850 in Alloa, Clackmannan, named as convention dictated and as a mark of respect, after her maternal grandmother.5 The family appear on the 1851 census in the parish of Clackmannan and the village of New Sauchie as follows.6
|42 North side of the Turnpike Road||James Mackie||Head||33||Woollen\Spinner||Stirling, Alva|
|Jean Mackie||Wife||30||Culross, Fife|
|Robert Hunter||Brother-in-law||22||Woollen\Spinner||Culross, Fife|
On 8 February 1852, 3 days after celebrating Janet’s birthday, Jane delivered another daughter Margaret, christened like Janet in no short order on 14 March 1852 in Alloa.7 A third daughter Jane was born on 5 April 1854 and christened on 30 April 1854, also in Alloa.8
After Jane’s birth the family relocated from Clackmannan in Scotland to Van Diemen’s Land in Australia. They travelled on the clipper White Star, leaving Liverpool on 22 April 1855 and arriving in Melbourne on 17 July 1855. An article in the Courier copied from the Herald gives a full description of the ship and the voyage.
The White Star. The largest, longest, and most powerful sailing vessel that ever anchored in the Port Phillip waters has just arrived. She brings English dates to the 20th April; and, considering the light baffling winds encountered [during] the first half of the voyage, and some unavoidable accidents which have occurred since, has made a very fine passage. On the eighteenth day at sea from Liverpool the ship was within 400 miles of the equator, a performance seldom if ever equalled. On the 4th of June (then 44 days out) the royals were furled for the first time, a fact which sufficiently indicates the light winds experienced. On the 13th of June, just before mid-night, strong winds, with heavy squalls, the ship labouring heavily, carried away the main yard (a spar 90 feet long and 5 feet in circumference), broke main topsail truss, and sprung main-topmast ; and during the next two days, without a sail on the mainmast, the ship logged 230 knots per diem. On the 17th, Captain Brown had the spare mainyard aloft, and damages repaired. On the 2nd July, in turning a reef out of the maintopsail, the chain-tie parted, and the yard, 70 feet long, broke in the slings. Two days after, sent up the spare topsail yard, a splendid pitch pine stick, which was scarcely aloft and the sail bent when it was carried away. Within three days a third main-topsail yard was in its place, made from the wreck of the two first spars. It is to be doubted if such serious damages were ever repaired in so short a space of time. Some minor accidents occurred, such as carrying away the spanker boom and gaff, and the martingale twice. Captain Brown has, however, succeeded in bringing safely to her destination his splendid ship in good condition, and with upwards of 600 souls all in excellent health. Besides this large number of passengers and crew, the White Star has on board 3000 tons of cargo and stores, 1500 tons of which is dead weight, and she was drawing nearly 23 feet water on leaving Liverpool. Despite this enormous cargo, she has proved herself a fast and comfortable ship. In ten consecutive days (June 30 to July 9 inclusive), she ran by observation 2393 knots, equal to 290 English miles per day; on the latter day she logged 337 English miles. The White Star is in all respects a clipper ship, but retains sufficient of the old form to make her a comfortable and profitable vessel. She registers 2039 tons British measurement, but her size may he better appreciated by stating that she is nearly one third larger than the Red Jacket or Lightning, which ships are reported generally, their American measurement (2400 tons or thereabouts), while their English register is under 1700 tons. She is a three decker, but carries 'tween-deck passengers this voyage only on one (7 feet high), and on that one amply accommodates about 500. Sue is nearly 300 feet over all in length, and 46 feet beam. She has a top gallant forecastle, spacious and convenient cooking houses, a forward house, 50 feet long and 7 feet high, for the accommodation of a superior class of passengers, ans amidships solely devoted to the officers, and small houses over each of the three hatches, a house containing the saloons and state-rooms of first-class passengers - thís is quite 80 feet long, and is a magnificent promenade. She has a wheelhouse further aft, the wings of which contain waterclosets, bath's, &c. The saloon accommodates forty persons; the fittings, though not so gorgeous as of some ships, are chaste and beautiful, being of white enamel, relieved with gold ; the upholstery is of blue velvet; the state rooms are spacious, well lighted, and ventilated. Her commander, Captain James R. Brown (late of the Balacia and Brissis) has won golden opinions from all classes of his passengers, who have admired his ready facility in repairing damages, his-untiring vigilance, and his real kindness of heart. The White Star was built by Wright, of St. John's for the line whose name she bears, the property of Messrs. Pilkington and Wilson. She made her maiden voyage from St John's to Liverpool, with a full cargo of deals, in 15 days.- Melbourne Herald.9
Red Jacket Clipper
From Melbourne the White Star immigrants were ferried by Steamer into Van Diemen’s Land. According to the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, they arrived on 28 July 1855. The sponsor was Joseph Bonney who was working as an agent of St. Andrew’s Immigration Society.10 Unfortunately soon after arrival, on 10 December 1855, James and Jane registered the death of their youngest daughter Jane at New Norfolk in Tasmania. Jane died of a bowel complaint, and was recorded as the child of a labourer. James Mackie, her father, registered the event the day after her death11
As if to seal the new home status another girl was born to them on 16 April 1857 and registered as Isabella Mackie, once again in New Norfolk.12
James and Jane followed the traditional Scottish naming pattern by naming their eldest daughter Janet after Jane’s mother, and including her surname as the middle name. They did this with Isabella as well, including James’ mother’s surname as her middle name.
Isabella is the last of their four children. What was also revealed was that Isabella, far from selling the business and setting sail, had in fact been the only one of her family to be born in Tasmania, in New Norfolk, the fourth and last daughter of James Mackie and Jane Hunter.
Isabella may have been the same Isabella Mackie who witnessed the marriage of John Gregson and Adelaide Mary Owens on 17 December 1867 at New Norfolk.13
The family were Church of Scotland, but it’s not known the extent of the Mackie’s religious fervour. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian and so they would have practiced their observances without much pomp and splendour.
James found work in the New Norfolk district as a farm hand and farm overseer. This is evident from his will but a more thorough search of the land titles may reveal more about his activities over the next 15 years. James wasn’t allotted a large amount of time in his adopted homeland, he died on 12 May 1874 in New Norfolk of Pththisis, an archaic term for tuberculosis.14
MACKIE – On the 12th of May at New Norfolk, James Mackie, aged 55. Funeral will leave his late residence on Friday 15th inst. At 2 o’clock p.m. when friends are respectfully invited to attend, as no circulars will be issued.15
James was buried next to his daughter Jane in the Back River Cemetery. He had drafted a will before he passed away which reads:
Probate of the Last Will and Testament of James Mackie:
Be it known unto all [?Law] by those present that on the twenty eighth day of May in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy four the last will and testament of James Mackie, late of New Norfolk, Farm Overseet deceased, a true copy whereof is hereunder annexed was exhibited and proved before this Honourable Court and that Administration of all and singular the goods chattels rights credits and effects of the said deceased within the Island of Tasmania and the Dependencies thereof was and is hereby committed to Jane Mackie, widow of the said deceased…
And further that she believes the goods chattels rights credits and effects of the said deceased at the time of his death did not exceed in value the sum of Six Hundred and Twenty Five pounds in Tasmania and the Dependencies thereof,
Given unto my hand and the seal of the Supreme Court of Tasmania this first day of June in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy four.
By the Court
H. J. Buckland
This is the last will and testament of me James Mackie
Of New Norfolk Farm Overseer, I devise and bequeath all the real and personal estate to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease unto my wife Jane Mackie absolutely. I appoint my said wife Jane to be the sole executor of my will and I revoke all other wills In witness thereof I have hereunder subscribed my hand this second day of December in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy three. – James Mackie
Signed by the said Testator as his last Will and Testament in the presence of us present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other we have hereunder subscribed our names as witnesses:
B, Travers Selby16
Six Hundred and Twenty Five Pounds was a sizable amount of money at the time and it was all left to Jane Mackie.
After James’ death in 1874, little is known of the family until 1886. James and Jane’s eldest daughter Janet Angus Mackie died in the General Hospital, Hobart on 27 December 1886 of apoplexy, or a stroke.17
Janet was buried two days later on 29 December 1886 in the Scots section of the then new Cornelian Bay cemetery. Her stated age of 34 makes her birth year about 1852 which is incorrect so perhaps Janet or those around her didn’t know her correct age.18
Janet’s sister Isabella married at 89 Bathurst Street in the following year on 9 July 1897 to Frederick William McMahon. Isabella and Frederick would have five children that have been traced.
Nothing further is known of James Mackie’s wife Jane who died on 3 February 1914 in Devonshire Square, Hobart.19 Given the location of her death she appears to have remained independent as the address is not associated with any of her children.
MACKIE - On February 3, 1914, at her late residence, Devonshire-Square, Jane, relict of the late James Mackie, of New Norfolk, in the 93rd year of her age.20
Location of Devonshire Square
Jane was buried in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery on 5 February 1914.21
Regarding the fate of the two surviving children of James and Jane Mackie, Margaret Mackie died on 13 May 1922 at 251 Elizabeth Street in Hobart, Tasmania.22
MACKIE.-On 13th May, 1922. at the residence of her sister (Mrs. McMahon), 251 Elizabeth-street, Margaret Mackie, aged 70 years.23
Isabella McMahon, nee Mackie, died on 17 July 1940 in Quayle Street, Sandy Bay.
McMAHON - On July 17, 1940, at 35 Quayle Street, Sandy Bay, Hobart, Isabella White, widow of the late F. W. McMahon, of Lislewin, Ireland, and youngest daughter of the late James and Jean Mackie, of Alloa, Scotland, and beloved mother of Mrs. J. Nicholls, Evandale.24
- 1. Oral History: Submitter: Cameron, Constance (nee Nicholls) [In a lecture delivered to the Probus Club, 22 Kenmore Village, Queensland, 27 May 1997]
- 2. GROS OPR Births and Baptisms 470/ 0010 0432 Alva
- 3. GROS OPR Banns and Marriages 466/ 0070 0185 Clackmannan
- 4. GROS OPR Births and Baptisms 397/ 0030 0008 Tulliallan
- 5. GROS Old Parish Registers: Births and Baptisms; OPR Births 465/00 0070 0249 Alloa (Clackmannan) and IGI, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (http://www.familysearch.org), Batch No. C119542
- 6. GROS Census 1851 466/00 001/00 010
- 7. GROS Old Parish Registers: Births and Baptisms; OPR Births 465/00 0070 0259 Alloa (Clackmannan)
- 8. GROS Old Parish Registers: Births and Baptisms; OPR Births 465/00 0070 0269 Alloa (Clackmannan)
- 9. "SHIPPING NEWS." The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859) 26 July 1855: 2. Web. 18 Dec 2017; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2487624.
- 10. TAHO Arrivals CB7/12/1/5 Bk21
- 11. AOT Death Registration RGD 1855/272
- 12. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1857/1584
- 13. TAHO Marriage Registration RGD 1867/505
- 14. AOT Death Registration RGD 1874/467
- 15. Reported in The Mercury, Thursday 14 May 1874 p. 1, col. 1 and Saturday 16 May 1874 p 2
- 16. AOT Last Will and Testament of James Mackie AD960/1/9; 1874, Will No. 1682, Page 458, Document ID: 637396
- 17. TAHO Death Registration RGD 1886/317
- 18. Southern Regional Cemetery Trust: SCOT, Section E, Number 47
- 19. TFI Death Registration RGD 1914/1090
- 20. "Family Notices." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 4 Feb 1914: 1. Web. 22 Mar 2015; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10360924.
- 21. Southern Regional Cemetery Trust: SCOT, Section E, Number 47
- 22. TFI Death Registration RGD 1922/1573
- 23. "Family Notices." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 15 May 1922: 1. Web. 26 Dec 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23551552.
- 24. "Family Notices" Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) 20 July 1940: 2 (LAST EDITION, 5.30 a.m.). Web. 3 Dec 2017; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52373180.